Both Semesters

In ‘How one should read a book?’ (1913), Virginia Woolf describes a library where ‘books written in all language by men and women of all tempers, races and ages jostle each other on the shelf’, and asks: ‘How are we to bring order into this multitudinous chaos and so get the deepest and widest pleasure from what we read?’ Attempting to answer this question is essentially the objective of Year 10 English at Geelong Grammar School.

The answer, in the first instance, is critical thinking, or what Roy Peter Clark (2006) has described as the technique of ‘X-ray reading’ – acquiring a ‘special vision’ that allows students to ‘observe the machinery of making meaning, invisible to the rest of us’ – or what Steven Pinker has called ‘reverse engineering’ through which students can ‘see the moving parts, the strategies that create the effects we experience from the page’. Through a close study of poetry, prose fiction, Shakespearean drama, film and media texts, English students at GGS develop skills in analysing and evaluating how language features, images and vocabulary create meaning and contribute to the development of writers’ and directors’ individual styles.

The second answer to Woolf’s question is one she supplies herself: creative engagement. She writes, ‘Perhaps the quickest way to understand the elements of what a novelist is doing is not to read, but to write; to make your own experiment with the dangers and difficulties of words.’ In creating their own texts, students at GGS experiment with language features, stylistic devices, text structures and images for different purposes and audiences. When creating and editing their texts, students demonstrate their understanding of spelling, punctuation and grammar, and vary vocabulary voices for intended effect.

The third (and final) answer to Woolf’s question rests in the fact that while reading may be a solitary act, learning is relational. The emphasis, therefore, in the English classroom at GGS is on creating a community of inquiry. Students practise their speaking and listening skills by reflecting on, extending, endorsing or refuting their peers’ interpretations of and responses to texts. They explain, in spoken form, different viewpoints, attitudes and perspectives, and plan, rehearse and deliver persuasive presentations.

Assessment – Semester 1

1. Responding analytically to texts (40%)
2. Creating and analysing argument (40%)
3. Speaking and listening (20%)

Assessment – Semester 2

1. Responding analytically and creatively to Shakespeare (30%)
2. Creating and analysing argument (30%)
3. Comparing texts (40%)


Group 1 - English A: Literature
Year 11 and 12 - IB

Year 11 and 12 - VCE

Timbertop - Year 9

Middle School - Years 5 to 8