“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” —C S Lewis
“Literature is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” Hamlet by Shakespeare
The English department continues to challenge the boys of St Edward’s to reflect on the world around them and their role in it through our engagement with literature. Our first semester has continued our ongoing focus on social justice issues that reverberate throughout their world.
Our Advanced senior curriculum has a strong focus on empowering the individual to find their voice. Our study of 1984 by Orwell, Metropolis by Lang, The Motorcycle Diaries by Guevara, Hamlet by Shakespeare, and W H Auden’s poetry challenges the boys to look at the political injustice of our past and give them agency to reshape the world they live in. The passive role of the individual in the world is critiqued and the detrimental impact this apathy can have is explored, as we ‘hold the mirror up to (the) nature’ of man.
Our stage 5 curriculum has been a direct challenge to our boys to explore and empathise with marginalised groups. Our year 10 cohort has looked at ‘The Subaltern’, those groups in society who are voiceless and oppressed by the structures and discourse of society. We explored these groups throughout history and challenged the boys to find contemporary groups who continue to be subjugated. We speculated how these structures can be challenged and the quandary of advocating for, or empowering these groups to have their voice valued by the wider community. Year 9 also looked at contemporary issues through their study of documentary; engaging with ongoing social issues such as gun violence, fame, technology, consumerism, and the abuse of animal rights. Students deconstructed how informational texts are constructed to convey meaning whilst remaining critical of bias and sensationalism that removes objectivity in these texts.
Our stage 4 teachers continued to transform our boys’ understanding of contemporary social issues through their study of real life texts. The boys have been confronted with the marginalisation of indigenous groups in society through a critical study of Stan Grant’s, The Australian Dream debate, in comparison to a variety of media articles about the ongoing disparity between Australian cultural groups. We have challenged the boys to empathise with our indigenous community and speculate ways to generate change through education and opportunity. Year 7 have been focused on celebrating our Australian heritage through a close deconstruction of some of our most iconic poetry. They have explored contemporary interpretations of these poems which challenge the realities of our multicultural society and cause us to reflect on our role in our national identity.
The English Department continues to expose the boys of St Edward’s to literature that broadens their understanding of the world they live in and themselves, provoking empathy through knowledge.