The narrator of an Isaac Babel short story says about writing of fiction, "No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place." Whether our students write through inspiration or through great effort, we teach them to become more attentive to the force and nuance of language. At Williston, when we teach students how to look at a text and break down the meaning of an abstract paragraph, or when we help them to write a compelling story, we are teaching them how to connect more deeply with themselves and other human beings.
Williston's English Department provides students the skills to handle language effectively; to think analytically; to write with originality, clarity, and depth; and to speak with thought and substance. We design our classrooms as arenas for intellectual risk taking, where a good question can often take the group further than a good answer. In addition, we have the luxury of being able to tap into the resources of the Five Colleges and thereby connect our students with the unparalleled cultural and academic richness that makes our educational community distinct. Whether it is attending a poetry reading at Smith College or viewing a Shakespeare and Company production of Hamlet at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, our students appreciate the opportunity to supplement their work in the classroom through the resources of the Five Colleges.
In all of our courses, students develop and hone their skills in reading, writing, speaking, and thinking. The skills taught in each grade work as cumulative progression, beginning with literature and composition. At each grade level, we seek to instill in our students a love of literature and to challenge them to grow as writers and thinkers. We want them to continue to "pierce the heart," even after they have left the bricked classrooms of Williston.