The Berkshire English Department emphasizes 21st century skills by building on traditional ones. We teach students to read carefully and appreciatively and to write clearly and expressively, emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving throughout our varied curriculum. Each form has a course theme, which expands upon that of the year before and is developmentally consistent with the achievements and interests of our students. We use both canonical and more contemporary texts in the service of addressing these themes, scaffolding skills as our students prepare for study, work, and life in the world beyond Berkshire.
Consistent with our mission we keep close watch over our students’ progress by assigning, evaluating and returning academic writing such as analytical, persuasive, and personal essays as well as original stories, poems, and scenes. Our students gain additional writing practice through frequent quizzes, short reading responses and journal entries. We teach grammar in both formal and performative sense. We have our students review etymology and vocabulary in a structured manner, and we review strategies for standardized tests.
Paying attention to the traditional building blocks of communication while engaging our students in web research, online discussion sites and interactive presentations, we prepare them for the varied demands of college and life. While reading important works of literature in a thoughtful manner, our students can develop a more informed and compassionate perspective toward the larger community, with special regard to issues of sustainability. Our fundamental assumption is that by working with language, literature and ideas in a dynamic fashion, students will develop their abilities not only to communicate but also to think and reason critically. By stressing the relationship between writers and readers, we make our students more aware of the multiple aspects of communication in a complex world.