English

The Big Goal: Why We Teach What We Teach

These are our goals for all our OCS graduates (in no particular order):

  • Read well for a variety of purposes with an attention to style, argument, and subtlety.
  • Write a sustained argument in a readable style (application of CEW and Informal Logic).
  • Speak with clarity and effect, with confidence, purpose, winsomeness.
  • Listen with respect and for understanding.
  • Be well-versed in cultural, philosophical, and ideological influences in order to weigh all expression and argument against the Truth of Scripture.
To accomplish these goals, our streamlined course sequence allows concentrated study in specific language areas. The courses are not linked to any particular grade level; instead, they follow a natural progression beginning with the foundation of reading well and ending with the capstone of evaluation and synthesis of ideas from multiple sources. College requirements indicate that every student must take four years of English, but they do not dictate that a certain level (e.g., honors or AP) be reached. To push through classes only to have them listed on a resume—without thought to whether or not students have engaged in ideas that deepen their ability to think—sidesteps the purpose of education. At Oaks Christian, we desire to move away from utilitarian and pragmatic thinking that drives students to “take classes” and instead concern ourselves and our students with language study that enriches the mind and enlivens the soul.

Required Course Offerings

Analytical Reading

This course focuses on improving reading comprehension and creating passion for reading and thinking. It is a discussion-based class, and students are required to read several literary classics. They will read challenging texts together in class and more accessible texts at home. Assessments will include paraphrasing, writing, oral exams and discussions. While students will discuss language, philosophy, and ideologies as they relate to specific books, the focus of the course is building analytical reading skills.

Grammar and Composition and Grammar and Composition Honors

Grammar and Composition - This course will cover the basics of grammar and composition. Teachers will focus on making grammar more purposeful so that students have a deeper understanding of language, not viewing grammar as an end in and of itself. In this course, we will allow grammar and syntax to shape style and meaning and overflow into writing, speaking and thinking. Students will also study mechanical conventions in context. Assessments will include imitation and creation assignments, CEW paragraphs, purposeful style assignments as well as an oral defense.

Grammar and Composition Honors - The honors course reads more supplementary material, incorporates more challenging application and evaluation questions on assessments, requires more synthesis on essays, and has a higher expectation for oratory performance.

Rhetoric and Style and Rhetoric and Style Honors

Rhetoric and Style - This course will build on and reinforce the material learned in the previous courses. Students will focus on the craft of writing, learning 10-15 rhetorical strategies and studying the principles of style. They will read poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, analyzing language as they strive to understand meaning. Assessments will include oral interpretations and defense, explicative papers, creative writing, and imitation and creation assignments. Many assignments will have rhetorical requirements.

Rhetoric and Style Honors - The honors course reads more supplementary material, incorporates more challenging application and evaluation questions on assessments, requires more synthesis on essays, and has a higher expectation for oratory performance.

Additional Course Offerings

Argumentation and American Ideology and Argumentation and American Ideology Honors

Argumentation and American Ideology - In this course, students will build on their knowledge of grammar and rhetoric and ideologies while studying argumentation. Students will explore Toulmin’s Claim/Evidence/Warrant format, and the five primary forms of Warrant/Reasoning: deductive, inductive, abductive, narrative, and analogy. They will read and evaluate both nonfiction and fiction pieces. They will construct their own written and oral arguments, blending grammar with style. Assessments will include essays, oral exams, persuasive speeches and debates.

Argumentation and American Ideology Honors - The honors course reads more supplementary material, incorporates more challenging application and evaluation questions on assessments, requires more synthesis on essays, and has a higher expectation for oratory performance.

Capstone Honors

This culminating course will reinforce reading, grammar, rhetoric, and logic while focusing on research as well as synthesizing argumentation and style. The first semester will examine the relationship between language and thought through a survey of Western philosophy. The second semester will require students to put these ideas together in a capstone project involving a lengthy research essay and oral defense. The project can explore a topic from any discipline. Other assessments will include synthesis papers and philosophical position papers.

Author Seminars

Students will continue to develop their skills in composition, grammar, and philosophy by examining a specific author through different ideological lenses. Students will refine their skills in stylistic analysis and argumentation through written and oral evaluations. The course involves close reading of at least two main texts, correlating non-fiction pieces and current event pieces. It culminates in a substantial synthesis research paper that allows students to put into practice the tools of argument and rhetoric they’ve acquired here at Oaks Christian.

These semester courses meet a half-year English requirement so students who enroll in this option must select two Author Seminars for the year.

Advanced Placement Offerings

AP Language and Composition

This AP course focuses on learning the elements of style and argumentation in order to analyze literature more accurately and to apply these principles to the students’ own writing.

AP Literature and Composition

The terminal objective of this course is to prepare students for the four sections of the AP Literature and Composition Test given each May. In order to reach this objective, students will use specific terminology to analyze various novels, dramas, poems, and prose. College work will be done in this class to ensure students are equipped to both pass the AP Exam and also write at a college level. Since 45% of the test is interpreting poems and prose passages, the most salient concern for all students is their ability to analyze literature individually and then answer college-level, analytical questions and write college-level essays based upon the poems and prose passages. Nevertheless, this course is far more than an effort to teach to the test; it is a thoughtful examination of some of the greatest literary masterpieces.