Before reading the remainder of this post, please make careful note of the following. I KNOW, and fully understand that, the CB does not intend for the content within the Big Ideas in AP Chemistry to necessarily be taught in the sequence that they currently provide in the curriculum document – I get that, I really do.

That said…

…if ‘Big Ideas’ actually meant anything at all, other than being a meaningless pile of edubabble, then since they are supposed to bring together large, related topics, it OUGHT to make sense to teach the electrochemistry that appears in Big Idea 3 WITHOUT reference to equilibrium at ALL – it doesn’t! It is ‘possible’ to teach electrochemistry prior to equilibrium but it makes for an awkward, difficult, and somewhat ‘smoke & mirrors’ based approach that I find annoying. I CAN do it, and this year once again I WILL do it. I have made peace with my approach but for me, this illustrates one thing and one thing only. Big Ideas’ are a really dumb way to organize the new AP chemistry curriculum.

Big Ideas in AP Chemistry

Like almost certainly the overwhelming majority of teachers that read this post, prior to the new course I always taught electrochemistry (my old TOPIC 16) after equilibrium (my old TOPIC 13). As I think we all agree that is the way that makes most sense, and I knew that going in, however I wanted to try a different approach. I thought that I would give the ‘Big Idea’ philosophy a go since, as it suggests, electrochemistry could/should be grouped with other things in Big Idea 3 and not necessarily be tied to equilibrium. I am glad that I did try the new sequencing since now I feel as though I can now be critical from a position of strength. I now know for a fact, that the concept of a ‘Big Idea’ in education is garbage. Why did chemistry education get hijacked in this way?

Finally it’s beautifully ironic that dictionary.com defines ‘Big Idea’ as, “any plan or proposal that is grandiose, impractical, and usually unsolicited”. I rest my case.