Pacific Collegiate School

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Curriculum » English


Department Chair: Christine DeCaporale

Curricular Philosophy

Every high school English program seeks to make better writers and readers of its students, but naturally the criteria for good writing and reading vary from place to place. At Pacific Collegiate we have adopted the criteria of the pertinent Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Our English curriculum is designed to prepare students, beginning in the 7th grade, for successful completion of the AP English Language and English Literature courses they will take in the 11th and 12th grades respectively. To that end, the texts at every grade level have been selected from a list of canonical works—that is, works of literature that have become classics.

Each of these texts contributes to the students' core knowledge of the traditional canon, which in turn is the study-base for the AP English courses and exams. In addition to selecting consistently challenging texts, an effort has been made to select works—across the generic spectrum—that "speak to each other." Literary allusion becomes a theme for students as they gradually learn to notice how authors write from a foundation of reading. In English poetry, from Chaucer to Auden, classical allusion is a mainstay: Tom Sawyer's adventures are modeled on the books he's read; Crane's conspicuous allusions to epic heroism in The Red Badge of Courage recall the siege at Troy; and Dostoyevsky's portrait of pre-Revolutionary Russia recalls both Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, and Hugo's Les Misérables.

Texts in all grades will vary somewhat from year to year. Students also write and publish an online school newspaper, The Roar, and an art/literary magazine, The Finch.

English Curriculum

English 7, American Literature
English 8, Ancient World Literature
English 9, Medieval World Literature
English 10, Modern World Literature
AP English Language
AP English Literature
American Literature Honors
Rhetoric and Oratory
Advanced Topics in Literature