Hopkinton’s Psychology Department Writes New AP Text Book

Sean Pettepit

Mr. Sullivan addresses his class in the high school auditorium. Photo by Sean Pettepit

By Sean Pettepit
HHS is the high school with highest percentage of its student population in the country enrolled in AP Psychology, so it is not a surprise that the cornerstones of the curriculum are writing the latest edition of the AP Psych book. Both AP Psychology teachers at Hopkinton High School, Michael Sullivan, who wrote the 1st and 2nd editions of the book, and Michael Hamilton are collaborating to write the 3rd and latest edition.

“We’re using the 2nd edition as a template, but collaborating with Mr. Hamilton helped with the structure and flow of the book,” said Mr. Sullivan. The 1st edition (2000) and the 2nd (2005) were written by Mr. Sullivan, but in the newest edition, Mr. Hamilton has focused most of his attention to rewriting and editing the book, while Mr. Sullivan has reworked the teacher’s manual.

In regard to what has been added to the book, Mr. Hamilton stated that there was a large focus on positive psychology, which focuses on the positive human attributes and resilience, as opposed to abnormal psychology, which brings a great amount of attention to human flaws. He also added, “We’ve added 6 years of psychological and scientific research, and got rid of a lot of excess materials that were not applicable.”

Even though the book has had 3 editors, Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Hamilton both agreed that the student involvement, particularly from the class of 2010, was a huge contribution to the completion of the text book. Many of the seniors last year not only looked over portions of the text for grammar, but gave feedback on how the information was presented and how it could be improved. The 3rd edition is expected to come out sometime next year.

Mr. Sullivan has been teaching for about 24 years, 8 of which have been here at HHS, while Mr. Hamilton has spent 6 of his 10 years teaching at Hopkinton. Their teaching backgrounds are surprisingly similar; they both started as history teachers but slowly fell into psychology. Both Sullivan and Hamilton agreed that once they began teaching psych, there was no turning back, and they have continued to advocate its importance as an academic. “There is a push for recognizing psychology as a legitimate science that has been proven through experimental research, and that it is not just theoretical,” stated Mr. Hamilton.

Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Hamilton take great pride in the student body’s involvement in the AP Psychology program. Its participation extends far beyond any other schools, with 70% of the senior class enrolled in the curriculum. “Our program is unique and inclusive,” said Mr. Sullivan, “No one else in the country tries as hard to make the curriculum as accessible [as we do].”