HS crash and clash book selection September 2019

Crash and Clash of Cultures

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.