What is Reading the World?

Reading the World is a two-year Humanities course that will prepare you for the rigorous environment of discussion and critical thinking at university. In this interdisciplinary programme you will undertake a suite of projects that explore current events, scientific debates, literary texts, and questions of personal and cultural identity. Regardless of your course of study, Reading the World will teach and reinforce the skills necessary to: excel in your chosen A-level courses, strengthen university applications and interviews, and vigorously engage the academic opportunities at your chosen university.

Through roundtable discussions and debates, directed essays, speeches, and independent research projects, you will lay the groundwork necessary to excel in your chosen field and become an engaged and active participant in global affairs.

What will I learn?

In the Reading the World classroom, we use the “Harkness Method” of teaching where you are asked to take responsibility for your own education. Seated at a large, oval table with your classmates and teachers, you will be asked to engage in lively and regular discussion and debate with your classmates and teachers across a range of subjects.

At the heart of the course are five essential skills: persuasive writing; independent reading; critical and independent thinking; dynamic discussion, and confident presentation of yourself.

In Year 12, you will:

  • read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, among other literary and  academic texts;
  • write a personal, reflective essay;
  • acquire and refine critical thinking skills;
  • research and participate in a structured debate;
  • write and present a 5-7 minute speech;
  • read and critique a book from the A-Level Recommended Reading List;
  • brainstorm and draft material for university statements and application essays.

In Year 13, you will build upon this groundwork of skills, extending and deepening your work in all key areas. In Term 1, you will undertaking both directed and self-directed reading and research culminating in two essays that contribute to your university application process. You will:

  • read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and write a critical piece on Fitzgerald’s novel;
  • research and draft materials for use in university statements and applications essays;
  • conduct in-depth analysis of a current event using critical thinking skills.

Advanced Diploma

The foundation Reading the World course runs through Term 1 of Year 13. Students wishing to develop additional skills for university level courses can elect to take the Reading the World Advanced Diploma Course. At the heart of the Advanced Diploma course is an independent research project of the student’s own design, culminating in a paper and presentation. Running terms 2 and 3A, the Advanced Diploma is open to any student whose project proposal (due October 15 2012) has been approved by Mr. Cheney and the student’s project supervisor (usually their A-Level subject teacher). A panel of judges will choose the most accomplished student paper, and the student will be presented with an award by the Principal.

What are the assessment details of the course? 

You will be assessed after each  modules across the two-year course. This assessment will include a grade for each of the final outcomes (i.e. essay, debate, speech, etc), as well as a grade for Effort. Finally, you will be given a grade for Reading, Writing, Discussion, and Critical Thinking based on your classroom work and regular homework assignments.  

Reading the World is part of the regular Sixth Form reporting structure each term: your grades plus a teacher’s comment will be reported alongside your other grades.

For your official Shrewsbury transcript sent to universities, your grades for the final eight modules will be included alongside a profile of the Reading the World program; inclusion of your grades for the first two modules is optional.

How will the course help me?

Reading the World has been designed to aid you in excelling in your chosen university and career goals whether you are reading in the Humanities, Sciences, or Arts. At the end of the two years in Reading the World, you will be a finer creative and critical thinker, an independent reader, and a more comfortable and confident member of classroom discussions and debates. These skills will prove invaluable wherever you choose to study, but will be particularly helpful if you hope to attend American university.

Do I need to buy anything for the course?

You will need to buy a bound notebook for your in-class and directed writing assignments. You will be given your own copies of several fiction and non-fiction texts.

Who do I contact?

For further information, please contact Mr. Colin Cheney, Director of the Reading the World Programme, colin.c@shrewsbury.ac.th .