English Seminars Underway
What better way to start Friday morning than to discuss and analyze a variety of written pieces with peers? Sophomore, junior, and senior seminars have started, providing students an opportunity to think deeply about literature in a casual group setting.
The non-credit course takes place outside of course hours, during lunch or before school. For juniors this means getting up at the crack of dawn, with just enough time to grab a coffee on the way to school.
The early start time has a great benefit. By the time Friday rolls around, most high school students are gearing up for the weekend. Sophomore seminar takes place during lunch on Fridays while junior Seminar takes place at 7:20 a.m, and senior seminar at 8:05 a.m on Friday mornings. Seminar classes allow students to discuss and give their opinions about historical fiction, fiction and nonfiction writing, ranging from one page essays to 500-page books. These morning classes wake up the students’ minds, activate their brains, and allow them to be ready for a full day of Friday learning.
Ms. Goldstein, who teaches the course, says, “I have taught this class for 15 years, taking over from Charlotte Rosenwald who created these classes in 1988. She taught me how to use the Socratic Method of questioning. Sophomores read Fairy Tales, The Little Prince, Einstein’s Dreams, Wonder, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into Thin Air, Angela’s Ashes and Midsummer Night’s Dream. Juniors focus on great essays by Americans, and seniors read great essays from around the world. I love these classes!”
Juniors Marli Gutman and Siva Albom, who attended sophomore seminar last year and are now in junior seminar, explain the following:
Junior seminar is a really good class. We discuss different pieces of writing, some of which give us insight on American history. We go into depth and discuss each piece thoroughly. For example, we read and discussed the Declaration of Independence. Seminar allowed us to learn and examine this piece in depth and gave my class a better understanding of how the people during that time felt and what life was like during the construction of a free country. Learning about different pieces gives us an understanding of how different pieces affect us and our writing today. This class is very beneficial and gives us helpful, analytical, and rhetorical skills that help students gain a better understanding of what authors are trying to convey to their readers. Since Friday seminar is smaller than an average English class, students are able to discuss different pieces of writing on a more personal and deeper level.
Senior Michael Edelman says, “Seminar is a great opportunity to receive literary discipline and to hone your discussion skills.” Senior Hannah Fretzin says, “It gives me the opportunity of a high level English class without the stress of grades.”
As the world changes, so does our literature and the language that authors use to communicate with their audience. Many pieces that students read in seminar highlight a specific character trait or flaw that is part of human tendency, others offer an explanation or solution to these flaws. Reading allows one to enter into new worlds, uncover new truths, and discover things about oneself that he or she wouldn’t have otherwise recognize. The words that students read in seminar not only uncover truths about humanity but they affect students and the way they choose to go about their lives. In Ms. Goldstein’s World Literature course and her Friday senior seminar, she started off the year with a quote by the writer Franz Kafka. Kafka says, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” Books can and should, says Kafka, affect us in such a way that we feel broken down into a hundred little pieces of ice.
So do you want to remain unchanged and comfortable? Or do you want to improve your character and become more fulfilled with the person you are today? Seminar is the perfect place for students to learn more about themselves, as well as what kinds of pieces they enjoy reading and what kinds of pieces they would like to pursue.