Monday, May 31, 2010

A Gift for the Next Generation

Dear APUSH Class of 2010-11,

Congratulations on signing up for what may be the most challenging - and also the most incredible awesome - class available at Paly. Throughout the course of next year, you will discover the joys of the American Pageant (including Thomas "Long Tom" Jefferson's large hands and feet), bond with your classmates over DBQs at 3 in the morning, and learn more than you thought was possible about an era in which literally nothing happened (thank you, Gilded Age).

The following is my gift to you, for your edification and amusement: an essay I wrote for one extremely stressful test in less than an hour. I believe the essay prompt required students to determine whether foreign policy during the late 1800s and early 1900s was a departure from or continuation of previous policies. Good stuff.

[See below for clarifications.]
1880-1900 Foreign Policy DBQ pg. 1 1880-1900 Foreign Policy DBQ pg. 2 1880-1900 Foreign Policy DBQ pg. 3 1880-1900 Foreign Policy DBQ pg. 4

pg. 1
A. I was quite proud of my grade on this paper, although I only got the extra point because the DBQ question required that you include information from the previous unit (which is unusual).
B. The reason "Doc G" is circled with a question mark is that I mistakenly thought that the document was referring to the Monroe Doctrine (it was actually the Open Door policy). Oops...

pg. 2
A. My teacher's handwriting is spectacularly unintelligible [upon occasion]. Here are the comments he wrote:
1. "Roosevelt Corollary?"
2. "Well, not sure about 'characteristic' - Mahan's ideas will be realized, especially by TR"
3. "OK - good. Reason you need a strong navy."
4. "Parallel to previous critics?"
5. "More nuanced - how did WW [Woodrow Wilson] act in Western hemisphere?"

pg. 3
Again, a translation of comments:
1. "Not exactly; good to see a common commercial motivation"
2. "Again, a qualification. Explain."
3. "How successful?"
4. [He took issue with my assertion that Wilson was forced to intervene in Latin America; hence the question mark.]
5. "Not clear to me; why is WWI involvement seen as an expansion-related issue?"
6. "Okay - but this is a straw man." [I'll note parenthetically that this is a widely-accepted device in many wonderful political speeches. Apparently not so much in APUSH papers.]

pg. 4
"Good essay; document use mixed, some done well; I appreciate you see nuances, but you must be clearer - hinting at nuance, (i.e. generalizing without support) - weakens your argument."

So there you have it. Even with as many less-than-complimentary comments as are on this page, it's still absolutely possible to get an A. And you'll probably learn some stuff from them too.

Best of luck, new APUSHers! Get out there and have some fun before junior year - but not too much fun. You've got three novels, two textbook chapters and two Spirit chapters to read and notes on the chapters and two one-page responses to write before August 24.