Brooklyn private independent school


Education [. . .] is a process of living, and not a preparation for future living.
                                                                                    —John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed

In the Upper School English Department at Berkeley Carroll, we think it’s both. In line with our school’s mission, we aspire to raise students into confident and curious citizens of the world whose reading, writing, and speaking skills will prepare them “for success in college and for the greater endeavor—a life of critical, ethical, and global thinking.”

But we also agree emphatically with Dewey that education can help us to live meaningfully, not just in an imagined future, but now. And so we seek in all of our classes and interactions with students to help them discover that reading, writing, speaking, and collaborating are powerful ways to be alive.

Over their four years, students cultivate a joyful companionship with language and literature, reading a wide array of texts (from novels, plays, and poems to films, performances, and visual art) with the goal that they will develop their own tastes, a lifelong love of reading, and deeper insights into human experiences similar to and very different from their own. Through our shared reading, we seek not to “master” any work, but to understand each text on its own terms and savor all of its nuance and contradiction; we read for political & historical context and for each work’s particular literary integrity.

We alternate shared grade-wide curricula with chances for students to set their own curricular paths. Ninth graders build community and core literacy in a course that abounds with deep reading, writing sprints, and discussion; eleventh graders also spend a full year in a single course, diving into American history, culture, literature, and philosophy in our college-level interdisciplinary American Studies class, co-taught with the History department. Tenth and twelfth graders, meanwhile, choose from electives such as Will’s World (a Shakespeare class), The Political Writer in Exile, and Literary Horror: Oppression and Resistance, all of which center particular teacher expertise, student interests, and rich conversations among authors and traditions. All four years prize depth over breadth and foster students’ increasing powers of abstraction and analysis. Through regular drafting, workshopping, and revision, students learn that all writing is both critical and personal, and that expression across many different fluencies is a key to unlocking the self.

9th Grade

10th Grade

11th Grade

*11th grade students who want to take an additional course in the humanities may have the opportunity to choose from the English and history departments’ 10th and 12th grade elective offerings.

12th Grade