Twenty-nine Big Blue student athletes will take their athletic skills to 23 new campuses in the fall to play 12 different sports.
The Pingry English Department’s goals can be summed up in Francis Bacon’s famous triad: “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” These three goals are intertwined, each adding to and enriching students’ experience and achievement in the other. Toward these complex and important ends, students in Forms I through IV take yearlong courses, designed to acquaint them with a broad spectrum of authors and writing experiences; in Forms V and VI, students take more sharply focused one-semester courses.
The literature that Pingry students read spans the comprehensive range of human experience, from the tragic drama of Sophocles to the lyrical idealism of the British Romantic poets, from the humanistic comic vision of Chaucer to the heroic quest of Frederick Douglass, from the romantic realism of Emily Brontë to the pessimistic naturalism of Edith Wharton. In the upper grades, books are presented as significant artifacts of the cultures, philosophies, and streams of artistic development that produced them. Where possible, connections are made between ideas and movements being studied in history and those being studied in English. Teachers utilize film, music, and art where they connect with literature.
By “conference” Bacon means the ability to communicate orally, an important skill in virtually every field and an important tool of thinking. Students are encouraged to discuss logically and articulately, stating their own views with confidence while listening to and considering those of others. Participation in large and small group discussions is considered an important component of each course and is a factor in determining grades.
Our goal in teaching writing is to develop the ability to communicate in a clear, concise, interesting, and effective manner. To this end, teachers assign compositions every three to four weeks, the lengths varying according to the grade level. Many of these papers are essays related to the literature being studied; others may be personal narrative or analysis, fiction, or poetry. By “exact,” Bacon also understood that writing is an aid to thinking; journal writing and online conversations challenge students to formulate their reactions to assigned reading before class discussions and take responsibility for setting class agendas.
All courses offered by the English Department provide a rigorous, challenging structure within which students learn to appreciate literature, draw informed inferences, and express themselves in a mature, lucid writing style. Historically, a majority of students who have completed our program and taken the A.P English Language and Literature exams have posted superior scores.
Implicit in the English program is the goal of helping students develop a sense of ethical and social responsibility. From Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to Shakespeare’s Macbeth to Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” and Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Pingry literature study includes probing discussions of questions about the human condition and the human being as a part of society.
Vocabulary development is stressed throughout the program.
Note: Books and authors listed in course descriptions are as specific as possible. Actual works taught may vary somewhat from year to year.
Fall and Spring Semester Courses:
All juniors and seniors take two one-semester courses per year. All juniors are required to take the American Literature course in the fall, and in the spring juniors select one elective of interest that explores a theme in contemporary American literature.
The Senior English Elective program, Global Perspectives, offers students a selection of electives that explore multiple genres and literature from around the world. Students select an elective of interest for both the fall and the spring semester. Seniors may opt to take Creative Writing in the spring as an English course requirement.
Juniors and seniors who have a keen interest in English may, with permission of the Department Chair, take additional English courses from the junior or senior selections. Full credit will be given, but the course will not count towards fulfillment of English course requirements or toward the requirement that seniors take four major courses. Non-credit auditing of extra courses is also possible by arrangement with the instructor and the Department Head.