Let’s Go!

  • 2022
  • High School
Dion Newsome, High School Humanities Teacher

The Garden's Humanities Team would like to welcome students and their families to another fantastic fall semester at The Harbour School!

My name is Mr. Dion Newsome, the English Language Arts instructor. This month, I would like to offer a brief overview of our ELA programs and invite you to learn about some of the fantastic literary worlds we will visit. Are you ready? Well, in the words of one of our outstanding students, “Let's go!”

With school back in session, now is the perfect time to focus on building and promoting a positive reading culture in our classrooms. As we all know, the past few school years were challenging and highly demanding for students, their families, and instructors. However, with the return of in-person learning, there seems to be an increasingly lively, upbeat, and exciting vibe on campuses city-wide. We strive to bring this energy to our literacy programs. Our courses encourage contemplative thinking and comprehension as students learn to analyze, criticize, and evaluate what they view, hear, and read at the literal, interpretive, and emotional levels. The programs are designed to accommodate native English speakers as well as English language learners.  Now, let's explore some of the readings offered this term. 

We will begin by visiting a large island nation 722 km south of the US state of Florida. Our literary "time machine" will take us back to 1950s Cuba, where we will meet an old man named Santiago who makes his living from the sea. His only friend is a young boy who admires the older man's grit and determination to get the job done, no matter what suffering he may endure. When times turn hard and Santiago has an extended streak of bad luck, we will explore themes of perseverance, despair, pride, friendship, and respect. Finally, we will confront our idea of manliness and ask what makes a hero and whether one can live in defeat. 

Afterwards, we will discover a bizarre parallel world that allegorizes events on our own. Here, barnyard animals, fed up with their mistreatment at human hands rebel, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy. Ultimately, the rebellion is betrayed, and its participants learn that, indeed, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Here, we will discover what it means to be “Orwellian,”and prepare ourselves for dystopia.

Far in the future, we will meet an over-achieving student, Zinhle living on a post-apocalyptic, post-war Earth. Every year the planet’s conquerors demand to be given a group of children as tribute. Every year the children are given, and never heard from again. The group includes ten students with the lowest rankings - and the one with the highest. As the best student in her village, Zinhle must decide if she will hold back and purposefully underperform out of fear of the unknown. This story explores what it means never to give less than your best, confront and overcome fear, and be yourself, no matter what.

Finally, we will explore themes of captivity, sustainability, and environmental stewardship through the eyes of a telepathic gorilla. A life is changed when a young man responds to an ad in a local newspaper. "Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person." Largely framed as a Socratic conversation, the story addresses several widely accepted assumptions of modern society as human-made cultural myths that produce catastrophic consequences for humankind and the environment. 

Returning to our universe, all of our readings and text are supported by thought-provoking pre- and post-reading activities, end-of-book projects, and other exercises that encourage critical thinking and deep analysis of the text. Students will be challenged  to revisit and reassess, preconceived ideas, and learn to support their thoughts and opinions with evidence. This term is sure to be exciting as we use our developing literary skills to explore new places, ideas, and ways of thinking. 

Again, the Humanities Team and I welcome and look forward to working with you all. I hope you’ve enjoyed this short blog outlining our goals, activities and readings for this team. Have a good month and we will see each other on campus!

Explore More

Begin your journey