Next year’s English curriculum to incoporate more freedom of choice in literature

Kassandra Darnell

Viyang Hao
Mofetoluwa “Mofey” Koya, senior and
IB diploma candidate, listens to a group discussion in
her IB Literature class about “Betrayal” by Harold Pinter. According to Jennifer Rhodes, IB Literature
A1 teacher, students answer questions
of varying difficulty in order to better understand
the different viewpoints offered within the play “Betrayal”.

Starting in the 2020-21 school year, the school board plans to implement a more diverse English curriculum throughout the district. This curriculum will expand the type of literature students read in their English courses and allow students more freedom of choice over the texts they read in class. Assistant Superintendent Amy Dudley said the purpose of this redesigning is to encourage engagement from students by providing literature that reflects the lives of students while expanding worldviews. The change will affect all English courses throughout the district, but will not change standardized curriculums, such as AP and IB courses.

“Really what you think about with literacy and what grows really good readers is that engagement,” Dudley said. “But our teachers would also guide them towards books that are what we call ‘mirrors.’ You can see yourselves in the books, (like) windows, so you can have other experiences through the books, and sliding glass doors, where you can actually get into the action of the books.”

Kathleen Overbeck, IB Literature HL teacher, said the best ways to encourage engagement from students is for them to be able to read stories they can connect to their own lives.

Overbeck said, “By allowing for more diversity in our texts and being more purposeful of including diverse perspectives… we allow students the opportunity to connect to the text they’re reading.”

A large factor in this new curriculum is the idea that reading texts that mirror their lives will help to engage students. Mofetoluwa “Mofey” Koya, IB diploma candidate and senior, said she agrees with the idea of relatable reading material leading to more engagement in class.

“I think as a person of color, just being able to see literature that’s from other parts of the world, not just American classics, (is important),” Koya said. “Especially for people who come from those countries, they can relate or see their own history in what they’re learning in class.”

Overbeck said the acknowledgment from the school board on the diversity within Carmel is a step in the right direction, allowing students to step outside of their current worldview and learn about other cultures.

“We do live in a very small Carmel bubble,” Overbeck said. “We’re kind of making that conscious decision that the more texts, the more types of texts and people and cultures and beliefs that we expose students to, the better off they’ll be as citizens of the globe.”

Koya said the literature she’s been exposed to in her IB Literature class has opened her eyes to other cultures that she was never engaged with, encouraging her to learn more about other cultures.

“It’s just important, with a lot of the reading in high school, it’s mostly American literature so they only get the perspective of American writers, American experiences. I feel like that can kind of limit your worldview by not reading anything from other countries or cultures,” Koya said. “It motivates people to learn.”