Letter: What linked classes are and why they should remain
As a former Steamboat Springs High School English teacher who taught linked and advanced placement English classes, I’d like to explain linked classes and to argue for why they benefit all students.
Linked classes are team-taught English and history classes that occupy one normal block. They follow collaboratively developed curricula that have evolved and been refined over 20 years to reflect changing affairs in the United States and the world. Students are required to take American studies during 10th grade and world history and literature during 11th. In both courses, students read texts that reflect the eras in which they were authored.
Linked classes have many strengths. Below is a partial list:
• At SSHS, they are required of all students, not just honors and advanced placement tracked students. In my new teaching assignment, I see how tracking students in the humanities furthers achievement and opportunity gaps.
• They prepare students to think critically about issues that matter. While traditional English and history classes stress the rote memorization of literary devices and dates, they are often superficial. No well-prepared high school graduate really needs to know endless lists of dates and the often agonizing minutiae of history, but they do need to understand how history and literature shapes current events in our nation and world.
• The linked classes do shape lives. Over the years, I often heard returning graduates talk about how their peace and justice projects (11th grade) ignited their interest in a subject and influenced their majors, and later, their careers.
• Linked classes prepare high-achieving students for the advanced placement language and composition exam, for which students can earn college credit. Before SSHS began to offer this course, many students passed the AP language exam because they were accustomed to synthesizing fiction and non-fiction texts, a hallmark of the linked courses.
SSHS is an undervalued gem. It has incredibly engaged students; a passionate, caring and devoted staff; and curriculum that is innovative, pertinent and challenging for all. I encourage the community to celebrate a fine institution and staff and to support and listen to them.
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