The SAA Junior High English Curriculum provides students with mastery over the written word both for reading complex material and writing articulate prose with clarity and concision. Students read engaging literature to analyze and discuss with their peers. The readings are incorporated into a writing program that builds mastery sequentially from simple to complex sentences, to paragraph form, to both the modern and classical essay, built upon a program of analysis and imitation following the classical progymnasmata.
Junior High includes a two-year study of grammar using the Shurley Method paired with sentence diagramming, and all classes include ample opportunity for memorization and recitation. The writing program is integrated throughout the entire curriculum, and teachers in various disciplines work together to build upon the skills learned in English class.
English 6, in keeping with the focus on World History, studies Fable and Narrative reading the folktales and mythology of ancient and medieval cultures. Students learn to analyze and imitate both fable and narrative, reading Aesop followed by age-appropriate versions of Egyptian and Greek mythology, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the story of Beowulf, the folktales of Dynastic China, among others. In addition to enjoying the lively stories and becoming familiar with a great body of literary reference points, students also look particularly at what a nation’s literature communicates about its culture. The English course incorporates not only their studies in history but likewise Grammar I, which is developed consistently throughout their written exercises, which focus on mechanics, syntax, and variety of expression.
English 7 begins with a study of poetry – meter, form, and figurative language. Students analyze and then imitate a variety of poetical styles. In concert with 7th grade American History, literary analysis focuses on works by American authors such as Mark Twain, Washington Irving, and Stephen Crane. Where 6th grade focuses more on the syntax of well-constructed sentences, 7th grade practices paragraph form, analyzing paragraphs in order to recognize certain rhetorical devices – encomium, paraphrase, cause, opposite, analogy, example, testimony, and epilogue – in order to use such devices in their own essays. This class also incorporates the study of Grammar II in written lessons encouraging greater use of complex sentences.
By 8th grade, students have more developed analytical instincts. While 6th and 7th grade enjoy lively discussion, formal assessment is focused more on “what” happened; whereas 8th grade can assess questions of “why” and produce essays in support of a proposition. Students begin to recognize and analyze recurrent themes and symbols in a larger literary work, along with more sophisticated study of character, mood, style, tone, and setting, reading authors such as Dickens, Shakespeare, and Willa Cather. The study of paragraph types begun in 7th grade continues with an added study of the appeals of rhetoric (pathos, ethos, logos) and the five canons of rhetoric.