It takes only a short period of exposure to Seton Home Study School before it becomes evident that the curriculum is extremely focused on English. Second only to the study of religion, studying English sits at the front and center of Seton Home Study School’s approach to education.
You might ask why this is so, especially given that America lags well behind the average in international math scores, and performs little better in the sciences. Isn’t it part of Seton Home Study School’s mission to provide an academically rigorous education that surpasses what is otherwise available to its students? Yes, that is part of Seton Home Study School’s mission.
As stated in our literature, “Seton Home Study School provides a Christ-centered, academically strong program.” However, our mission statement takes a step forward by acknowledging that the purpose of the education we provide is to “educate… children for eternal salvation, as well as to form good citizens in this world to influence others to live the Christian life.”
In a word, that means religion and English. Evangelization and conversion are the desired legacy of Seton Home Study School, but that cannot be accomplished without communication.
At Seton Home Study School, we believe that the most fundamental skills are reading and writing, which are the building blocks of effective communication and prerequisites for success in anything else.
We prioritize learning to think and analyze, learning to organize one’s thoughts, and learning to express oneself clearly because we know that without those skills, a student will find it difficult to excel in other academic disciplines, to say nothing of the workplace and the public arena.
In order to achieve the end goal of developing good communication skills in each student, Seton incorporates a carefully planned trajectory into the design of the High School English curriculum. Starting with the basics, expository writing, persuasive writing, and then high-level interpretive essay writing are each covered at length in 9th through 11th grades, respectively.
Over the course of a student’s experience at Seton, he or she will have every opportunity to develop the ability to write clearly, logically, and persuasively.
An equally important part of learning to write well is reading good writing. This is why Seton emphasizes reading the classics, or the fine works of literature. By reading high-quality literature that has stood the test of time, Seton students are exposed to the best examples of literary style, and are able to cultivate an appreciation for good writing that will filter into their own written work.
As with the writing component of the high school English curriculum, the literary component follows a carefully designed trajectory, beginning with simple classics in 9th grade.
More complex literature is introduced in 10th grade, followed by a survey course in American Literature for 11th grade, and a survey course in British Literature for 12th grade.
Enrollment in Seton Home Study School’s high school English program gives students access to two full-time English counselors, Mr. Walker Solis and Miss Elizabeth Wagner, who are available during business hours to assist students via email or phone.
In addition, Seton hosts message boards for the English students, and constantly adds to its bank of online resources: extensive video tutorials, sample essays, assignment tips, and other helpful supplements.
This wealth of resources ensures success for every student in the high school English program.
Dr. Clark’s English Stories
When I am asked why Seton puts so much emphasis on Grammar and Composition, and why Seton Home Study School demands so much in the high school English courses, I immediately think of two phone calls I received. One mother who had several children enrolled with Seton constantly called for help from me and from the English counselors over a period of several years. She indicated that her own education had been lacking.
After about six years, she stopped phoning, even as we were beginning to see a high quality of writing in the assignments her children submitted. We finally met this mother and her children at a graduation, and were struck by how articulate and educated they were. All of the children were going to college or to other professional schools. Each one of her children told an amazing success story, a story of determination to learn and to achieve combined with a desire to be better Catholics and better people.
The mother and the children professed their conviction that the analysis and critical thinking skills, as well as the demands of organized writing assignments at Seton helped them to become the kind of educated Catholics they wanted to be.
Another time, a father phoned to thank me for the high school English courses. He said he was a research scientist, but had always struggled with writing his research papers for peer review. One day, his high school son, who was enrolled with Seton, helped write the father’s research report based on what had been covered in the Seton high school English classes.
The father and son began to work together regularly on writing the father’s reports. After a while, the father was able successfully to write his own reports. It was then that he phoned me and thanked Seton for the English courses that provided such excellent writing and analysis skills that had benefited him in his occupation of scientific research.
High School English Counselors
Mr. Solis holds a degree in English from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a concentration in writing.
Miss Wagner holds a degree in English from Christendom College with a concentration in literary studies.