by Jen Dakan
One of my goals this year is to read all the assigned books my son Sam will be reading in his senior English seminar courses as part of his final studies at Waverly. This semester, he is taking Crash and Clash of Cultures. This seminar is taught in conjunction with the history/social studies class called State of the World. Both classes explore themes of morality, violence, poverty and wealth, population issues, globalization, immigration, and corporate capitalism, and they look at the age-old and ageless responses to the idea that cultures clash and crash. In addition to an assortment of short stories, poems, and essays, students will be reading Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice,
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. English teacher Amy Sedivy cites two things as essential in considering selections for this course – literary technique and theme. Each of these stories is rich with historical information and current issues and are also rich in the beauty of literary technique. One can read any of these books and engage in a serious discussion about what is happening in the world today. When I asked Amy about her experience teaching this course, she said, “I enjoy how seriously the students take the reading and the knowledge they bring into the classroom, whether through their own familial experience or building upon ideas learned in their history class.” An excellent work week for me includes getting to sit in on one of the English classes at the high school. When I do, it is another reminder of why I love working at this school.