English Department 2023-24

Academic overview
The 2023-2024 academic year was a busy and exciting one for the English department of Head Start Educational Academy. We began the year with the aim to extend our practice of immersive, hands-on and guided language learning beyond the classroom walls, infusing it with our everyday practices outside as well. Our goal of creating independent, perceptive, and intellectually and emotionally curious individuals is aided by a robust, extensive and meticulously crafted curriculum that focuses on building the four pillars of language learning at every grade level: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The long lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the learning skills of students that we are still reckoning with, drove us to continually reinvent our teaching strategies to involve and cope with the changing learning needs of our students. In a typical HSEA English classroom, one can expect to find a blend of traditional as well as innovative, activity based learning taking place in harmony. We hope to refine this blend further to its full potential in the coming years.

HSEA Literary Fest
This year we hosted the third edition of the annual HSEA Literary Fest. At the time of its conception in 2021, we had been discussing and deliberating over hosting a literary fest for quite a while. In a lot of ways, it was the extreme sense of disconnect and loneliness we felt collectively during the Covid-19 pandemic that drove us to put together an event to feel like a community. What began life as 40-minute long Zoom sessions during timetabled English classes for individual grades and was a modest success, has now morphed into an in-person day-long collaborative event between all the language departments of the school- English, Kannada, Hindi and French, as well as talks and workshops by stalwarts in the fields of literature, arts and culture. Needless to say, it was the students’ boundless enthusiasm that fuelled us. We have envisioned the Literary Fest as a celebration of language itself, a celebration of something as basic as an utterance— something we often take for granted. By putting literature in conversation with popular culture we wanted to explore the idea that despite differing or common points of origin, language is used to unite people across the spectrum, the expression of which is presented in all its versatility through the written, spoken, performed, and drawn/painted mediums.

HSEA Libraries and the Book Club
We also inaugurated our new library in the High School block on campus, alongside the operational ones at the Primary and the Middle School blocks. In congruence with this event, we started a book club. Currently, students of Grades 9-12 meet at the new library space fortnightly to discuss a diverse range of reading materials- from timeless classics and works of contemporary authors, to assigned readings on various socio-political issues of historical and contemporary relevance. The primary aim of hosting the book club was to encourage young minds to consider expanding their reading horizons and as a complement to their academic pursuits. Our discussions progressed to how each one of us looked at the very practice of reading. Opinions came up about how reading beautiful descriptive pieces, or perhaps a lacklustre ending or, in other cases, sparkling dialogues made reading a riveting exercise in itself. We collectively pondered over the importance of cultivating a reading habit, and discovering newer genres as well. These sessions allowed us to reconnect with memories etched in words, passed down generations and engage with diverse perspectives without the distance a screen imposes. The proceedings, encompassing both unanimous agreements and several outright disagreements, were aimed at fostering the development of our students into individuals who are tolerant and respectful of diverse approaches towards life. From a practical perspective, it becomes essential to consider how they foster and facilitate critical analysis of texts for academic purposes. These sessions are therefore aimed at encouraging students to establish a foundation for themselves wherein they independently hone critical thinking skills and conduct insightful textual analyses within an academic context.

We are looking forward to expanding our language programme in the coming years and to keep reinventing our practices.