the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Michaela Crabtree-Crowley ’22
Since the beginning of the Fall Term, there has been much talk among Sixth Formers and faculty about whether the Sixth Form English curriculum needs to change and what about the elective program might be altered.
This fall, Sixth Formers started our year of study with all eight classes on the same page. First, we all began reading Mary Shelley’s timeless gothic-Romantic novel, Frankenstein, then we moved on to studying the Shakespearean classic, Hamlet. As we progress into the Winter Term, each class will begin with their chosen elective, including everything from cultural literature to modern takes on artificial intelligence. But, with the Fall Term in mind, many Sixth Formers have varying opinions of what they thought did and didn’t work for our curriculum thus far.
Many criticisms of the curriculum came from a place of enthusiasm. Most seniors were not necessarily interested in the topics and stories covered in the Fall Term but more excited to “get to the electives we signed up for.” Many understood the need to study these classic pieces of literature but felt that it was taking up time that could have been used for something the general consensus might find more engaging. The style of the class this year was also approached differently due to Covid-19 protocols in mind. At this point, Covid-19 has become a part of everyday life, and protocols should always be respected; though, many sixth formers were upset that we did not experience our fall elective in its intended style. One of the perks of Sixth Form English, and an aspect of its widely praised curriculum, is the lecture-style classes in the fall term. * CDC guidelines are well out of the English department’s control, but, regardless, many seniors were disappointed that we did not get the lecture-style classes so widely acclaimed as a part of Sixth Form English.
After speaking with many students, another consensus criticism was on the final project of the Fall Term, the reenactment of a Hamlet scene. Sixth Formers were divided into smaller groups within their classes and then selected scenes from Hamlet to reenact and record for the rest of their class to vote on what they believed to be the “best video” in the class. Each class’s “best video” would then go to the finals, where the very best video would win a $100 gift card.
For multiple reasons, this project was a stressful one for the majority of Sixth Formers who partook; since it was the end of the fall term, many seniors had busy schedules filled with college applications, sports tournaments, and tech week. As a result, many felt that this project may have been more productive if it had been earlier in the term or if we had been given more time to work and edit these projects. But, overall, most groups found this project to be more entertaining than a traditional written final, and every group found the fun in creating their videos.
With the Winter Term ahead, most students are excited to begin their electives and continue with the chosen curriculum until the Spring Term begins.