Mastering Form and Function in English
26 Jul 2017

Our English program emphasizes a disciplined and progressively challenging approach to the mechanics of language, the development of intellectual independence, and the sheer enjoyment of language. In teaching language and literature, our primary goals are to develop greater effectiveness in communication, to encourage clear and logical thought, and to promote a greater awareness of human values. To this end, the curriculum is organized around the intellectual skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking.

As readers, students are encouraged and expected to develop the following skills:

  • the sound comprehension of ideas expressed in the various forms of writing;
  • the ability to recognize implications and to make inferences;
  • the ability to distinguish the literal from the figurative;
  • the ability to distinguish fact from fiction;
  • the recognition and identification of both tone and point of view;
  • the ability to recognize faulty reasoning;
  • the perception of cause-and-effect relationships;
  • the recognition of the different forms and purposes of written expression;
  • the development of a larger, more varied vocabulary.

As writers, students are encouraged and expected to seek proficiency in the following areas:

  • the generating of ideas about an assigned topic;
  • the expression of these ideas in well-ordered paragraphs;
  • the construction of sound, clear sentences and the use of varied syntax;
  • the correct application of the rules of punctuation, grammar, spelling and capitalization;
  • the control of diction and tone;
  • the processes of drafting and revising.


Dr. Jeffrey Fast

Dr. Jeffrey Fast has been a teacher and administrator in America’s leading independent schools for almost 40 years. After graduating from Oberlin College, he served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines teaching English at both secondary and collegiate levels. He received his MA in English Literature fromYork University in Toronto, then moved on to receive his PhD from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, England. Upon his return to America, he took on both teaching and administrative positions at The Webb Schools in California, serving for 15 years as English department head, Dean of Students, Director of Curriculum, and Director of the Summer Studies Program. He also taught English to Japanese students at The Toin Gakuen School outside Yokohama in one of his sabbaticals. After Webb, Dr. Fast moved to Boston, and took on teaching and administrative positions at Belmont Hill School, serving as English department head, Director of Curriculum, and Form Head for the past 22 years. He currently teaches sections of 9th grade English, as well as several advanced English electives — Shakespeare, Faulkner and the Southern Tradition, Search For Faith, Literature of Social Reflection.

< Back to Expert Sharing