New English Curriculum Engages Students

Izzy Miller, Staff Writer

book-863418_640Current sophomores are the first HMHS students to experience the new English curriculum, which has been modified to align with the Common Core standards. Previously, students took American Literature in tenth grade, British Literature in eleventh grade, and World Literature in twelfth grade. Under the new curriculum, students take World Literature in tenth grade, American Literature in eleventh grade, and British and European Literature in twelfth grade. One of the goals of the new tenth grade english curriculum is to expose tenth graders to contemporary texts, which allows tenth graders to engage in discussions regarding present-day issues to broaden their understanding of the world.

One of the books in the new tenth grade curriculum is Ishmael Beahs memoir A Long Way Gone. The book describes the authors life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone and was one of the summer assignments for tenth grade students. The book certainly succeeded in broadening studentsknowledge of other cultures. Beahs evocative, powerful language transports the reader to a world where children are forced to fight in wars, leave their families, and commit atrocities. Death follows closely at the heels of chaos, which reigns supreme as the childrens carefully ordered lives come to an abrupt halt and are replaced with ones of uncertainty and fear. The civil war in Sierra Leone has since been a point of class discussion for sophomores.

The new curriculum is a learning process for teachers and students alike. Ms. Dickstein, one of the new tenth grade World Literature teachers, up to this year has taught neither World Literature nor tenth graders. She reported, I was intimidated at first, but now Im having fun. I am impressed with the classessense of responsibility and engagement in our discussions. World Literature is an exciting course . . . it engages students as Americans and global citizens.Prompted by increasing class sizes and number of course sections, administrators have assigned teachers, including Ms. Dickstein, to new classes.

So far, the new curriculum appears to be a success in that it has broadened studentsunderstanding of world cultures and events. Future novels in the curriculum, including Chinua Achebes Things Fall Apart, will further enrich studentsglobal perspective.