The Frisch English curriculum includes the best of classical and contemporary literature, which students analyze, discuss and write about throughout high school. The English curriculum is predicated upon a series of interconnected goals: students learn to write clearly and effectively, conforming to conventions of standard written English—including appropriate mechanics and diction. Through their study of fiction and non-fiction, students learn to read and think critically and to make intelligent inferences regarding the text. In addition, they learn to use and understand critical resources and to integrate secondary sources in well-conceived and constructed essays. In their study of literature, students develop a sophisticated ability to recognize and understand the meaning markers of a literary work, including tone, setting, language, literary and rhetorical devices, as well as point of view. Students develop the ability to comprehend how each marker contributes to the meaning of the work and why each was an intentional choice by the author. The English Department’s choice of works is designed to foster an appreciation of literature as an art form and as an expression of human experience. Students are helped to respond to literature with sensitivity and perception regarding characters, motivation, theme and language, as they develop an active and creative relationship with the text.
Writing instruction is a major emphasis. Writing assignments engage students in the different rhetorical types of the formal essay, ranging from the descriptive, to the narrative, the comparison, the argumentative, as well as the literary analysis essay. Students are steeped in the writing process as they learn to articulate and organize their ideas, as well as present their individual points of view. Literature is selected to be appropriate for the level of the specific class—the goals are to engage students in reading that stimulates their interest and that sparks their identification with the universal themes of self-discovery, as well as to enhance each individual’s ability to read and respond critically.
Students continue to refine their writing skills. Writing units present more complex models so students develop rich thesis statements and more sophisticated methods of coherent essay development. Students develop the capacity to read and react to the works of their peers, as well as to other models of expository writing. They are challenged to expand their appreciation for different literary styles and points of view through exposure to literary works which span the modes of expression – from prose to poetry and drama. In addition, they are encouraged to engage in more complicated literary texts and to appreciate literary creativity as expressions of culture, as well as of the historical moment.
In Junior year the options for students expand. The eleventh grade English class focuses on American Literature from the Colonial era to the present. We focus on the development of an American voice and a unique identity which distinguishes American writing from literature from other countries. Writing responses to prose and poetry complement an awareness of the upcoming SATs to round out this intensive course of study.
Emphasis in writing instruction moves to elements of style and the nuances of expression, along with more sophisticated patterns of organization. Each student is encouraged to develop his/her own voice, as well as a mature sensitivity to language and the infinite possibilities of individual expression. Students refine their abilities to research and utilize secondary resources in their writing. Juniors continue to develop critical reading skills and grow in their appreciation of individual creativity and the power of literature to depict the human condition through diverse lenses of artistic reflection. They improve their ability to identify and analyze complex structures of literary activity, as well as to connect to the themes resonating within each work.
The Honors class in eleventh grade is based on the Advanced Placement exam in English Language and Composition. The class pays careful attention to non-fiction writing and the elements of argumentation. Rhetorical devices, techniques and flaws are analyzed and authorial intent in persuading audience is a consistent focus. Writing in a variety of formats, to mirror the plethora of approaches studied helps students assume the mantle of content creator and put theory into practice.
In addition to the required English course, students are able to register for an English elective.