The English department is responsible for providing challenging, college-preparatory English classes at all grade levels. Every English class at AMHS is designed to prepare students to succeed in college-level reading, writing, speaking, listening and critical thinking. Our former students have found these classes prepared them well for college work.
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In his father's opinion, [the son] did not want to learn what he was taught. In reality he could not learn that. He could not, because the claims of his own soul were more binding on him than those claims his father and his teacher made upon him. Those claims were in opposition, and he was in direct conflict with his education. He was nine years old; he was a child; but he knew his own soul, it was precious to him, he guarded it as the eyelid guards the eye, and without the key of love he let no one into his soul. His teachers complained that he would not learn, while his soul was brimming over with thirst for knowledge.
--from Anna Karenina
My first thoughts, after reading this passage, were how remarkable for anyone to know his or her own soul so intimately, and then, maybe, how unremarkable that is. I remembered a few students, and how unconsciously and intuitively they (and I and we) often operate, how easily they can become guarded and insular and dismissive when confronting that direct conflict with education, with contradictory claims made upon their souls. True example: "Read Dante's Inferno, not your darned text messages!" (I may look like Lenin, but my classroom style tends more toward Stalin, and I often resemble the arrogant father & teacher of the passage. Still much to learn.) Tolstoy describes the precise problem, which is how to reconcile students’ souls with what they don't know and haven't seen or thought about yet.
But then I thought about some of my favorite teachers at AMHS, and how deftly and persistently they all offer the key that Tolstoy mentions. And I smiled to think that our students and even my own oblivious, foolhardy boy (& his father) will find that love here.