Kathleen Dickerson, Department Chair
The ultimate goal of our English courses is to help students build confidence as readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers, prepared to tackle any intellectual challenges they may face in the future. Friends’ Central students develop along with their eight semesters of English, as illustrated by the title of our core courses. 9th and 10th graders take required year-long English courses, while 11th and 12th graders take a required semester-long course in the fall and choose from a variety of seminar courses in the spring. In all courses, students study a range of texts, both canonical and contemporary, to deepen their critical-thinking abilities, hone their analytical skills, and improve written and verbal communication. The English Department, with feedback from students, curates a curriculum in which students can find both mirrors and windows, recognizing their own experiences and learning about people different from themselves.
Discussion-based classes allow students to take an active role in their learning. As students get older, they take on more responsibility for student-led discussions. This allows students to learn from people who have different experiences and perspectives. For the same reason, Friends’ Central does not offer advanced sections of core English courses. Students excel as part of a diverse set of learners, and individually students can be further challenged by additional texts, varied interactions with teachers and peers, and other built-in differentiation.
Students complete a variety of writing assignments, both creative and analytical, on a regular basis. As writing is an iterative process and we hope to encourage continual reflection and growth, students are encouraged to revise and resubmit their work. These revisions allow students to develop writing skills and social-emotional skills related to agency, decision-making, responding to feedback, and pride in their work. Students have the opportunity to continue developing these skills in INK (Friends’ Central’s literary magazine), Focus (Friends’ Central’s newspaper), and certain senior project seminars (see an example of a senior project seminar here).
English Spring Seminars
In the second semester, students in grades 11 and 12 select a Semester Seminar. These classes, focused on particular themes or genres, give students a chance to explore an aspect of literature in depth. Semester Seminars include:
- The Modern to Contemporary Black American Stories
- Speaking Out: Queer Voices in Literature
- Literature of the Holocaust
- Watch What You Read
- Catastrophes of the Near Future: Speculative Fiction
- Game Theory: Sports Literature
- A Fairer House than Prose: Exploring Poetry
- Everything Change: Love in the Anthropocene
- The Story's the Thing: Finding Ourselves in Stories
- The United States of Crime
- Between Homes