Being an English teacher at Merici College is fantastic because we see the passion and empathy of our students as they explore great literature and other forms of communication.
2020 saw the continued implementation of the International Baccalaureate in Merici College English classrooms. As the MYP moved into Year 9, English students completed inquiries considering how creators use form and style to express personal and cultural viewpoints, and how cultural and historical contexts shape literary genres. Furthermore, the first Year 11 cohort of DP students embarked on their study of the Language and Literature course.
This year, to support the study of Shakespearean plays, many classes attended live drama performances. Bell Shakespeare’s The Players delivered “Such Sweet Sorrow”, an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, to our Year 9 students as well as “Macbeth: The Rehearsal” to Year 10. Earlier in the year, senior students studying A Midsummer Night’s Dream also attended a performance in Glebe Park.
One of the main goals of the English staff is to cultivate a habit and desire to read amongst our students. As such, English classes in Years 8-10 continued to devote one period a fortnight to the Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) program run by iC staff. While we all share an understanding that reading is an important skill, an increasing number of studies have shown the significant benefits from reading for pleasure. For example, in a review of the relevant literature, Clark and Rumbold found that consistent reading for pleasure resulted in improvements in reading attainment and writing ability; text comprehension and grammar; breadth of vocabulary; positive reading attitudes; self-confidence as a reader; pleasure in reading in later life; general knowledge; understanding of other cultures; community participation; as well as insight into human nature and decision-making. When considering the power of reading, I call to mind the eloquent words of Carl Sagan:
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
As the year draws to a close and our students look to the holidays, I encourage them to take some time to escape into the magic of a book. It’s worth it.