The Shipley Magazine

Academic Spotlight: English 12 Seminar

Melissa Tassoni
Shipley’s carefully-engineered Pre-K through Grade 12 English curriculum is aimed at developing traditional English academic skills, like reading, writing, critical thinking and analysis, while exposing students to a variety of literary genres representing diverse voices, both classic and contemporary. By the time they reach senior year, students are offered choice in which semester-long English electives they’d like to enroll. This offering of choice is meant to inspire learning based on students’ interests and the courses are designed to give students a college-like learning experience.

Many of the courses are interdisciplinary in nature, exploring an essential question from many perspectives in addition to literature. Course topics such as Literary Science Fiction, Critical Theory on Being Human, Fantastic Beings and Places, Mystery, Post 9/11 Literature, African American Literature, Dystopian Worlds in Literature, Creative Writing, and Shakespeare and Film are developed based on teachers’ interests, evaluated annually by students and faculty, and updated based on feedback. Some courses are offered at both the honors and standard levels, while others are better suited for either one or the other. All of the classes are kept small to encourage real dialogue.

English Department Chair Susan King says, “One particular aim of mine is to bring the literature into the Twenty-First Century and offer a range of diverse authors in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and experience. We stumble now and then with choosing works that don’t appeal to a group of students, but for the most part, they really like the feeling of ownership they get from choosing their own areas of study in English.”

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.