What is the English Language and Literature at WA Preparatory School? Why do we read Classical Literature?

In the Washington Preparatory School’s English Language and Literature course, we strive to acquire the linguistic aspects of the English language and skills needed for reading, writing, analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating literary and non-literary texts in the English language. We also endeavor daily to learn the valuable lesson imparted through classical literature.

Language is “alive” in that many new words are “born,” constantly, especially in the science and technology fields. They are added to our list of vocabulary, whether we are aware of them or not, and new forms of electronic media, stories, fiction, and non-fiction works are produced every day.

Why then are our WA Prep students and, for that matter, students in English classes worldwide, are still reading, analyzing, and interpreting classic “old” literature instead of reading some random morning Tweets or paperback pop fiction? Because literature, as opposed to popular fiction, is a work of art that has depth, meaning, lasting value, and teaches life lessons.

Literature is worthy of analysis, criticism, discussions, and introspection. Literature requires careful thinking, reflecting, and inquiring. Our courses follow an IB inquiry-based learning model that encourages our students to choose literature based on their knowledge and interest and emphasizes learning how to learn, and how to do research, using both traditional and contemporary media.

Classic literature, poetry, and stories evoke, stir, challenge our values, perspectives, and actions. Classic literature addresses universal human concerns, and it will challenge, change, or shift our thinking and views on life. And world literature we study in our class is a silken cord that connects all humans in the world and about being open-minded, a characteristic of the IB learner profile.

Classical literature also has merit, which is continually respected and examined by experts and critics throughout the years. Classic literature is alive in all English classes around the world, and the English teachers in schools bear the sole responsibility and the risk of selecting and teaching literature, albeit at the risk of disapproval and sometimes outright rejection of individual books.

Our students at Washington Preparatory School’s English Language and Literature course continue to read, analyze, interpret, and discuss literature. Through literature, we learned about how selfishness and unbridled ambition led to the tragic death of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, first performed in 1606. We learned about fighting racial injustice and courage by analyzing To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, published in 1960. Moreover, we learned about the dangers of the police state, censorship, and the truth, when all Clarisse McClellan did, was to ask Guy Montag, “Are you happy?” in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, first published in 1953.

Classic literature will outlast us; it has survived our forefathers and their forefathers so far.

Although we continue to make advances in science and technologies, we are still short on understanding and improving our basic pitfalls in human nature to build a better world where all humans can live in harmony. We hope that the hard lessons and the values imparted through classical literature are learned and not repeated despite our advancement of science and technology in our world.








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