A new half-year science fiction English course will be available to Huntington High School students during the 2018/19 school year. Trustees approved the new class during a public meeting in the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium this past Monday night.
The district’s English Subject Matter Council signed off on the new course last March 16. The Educational Development Committee gave its approval on May 25. The half-credit class will require a .1 full-time equivalent increase in teaching staff.
“This course will survey many of the sub-genres that fall under the umbrella term ‘science fiction,’” states the new course proposal presented to trustees. “Though science fiction was once primarily focused on science itself, the genre has evolved over the years to encompass various sub-genres including apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic, speculative evolution and sociological science fiction. Through exploration of this wide-reaching genre, students will be able to ask themselves various ‘what if…?’ questions that spark discussion and further questioning about the world and their place in it. Authors of science fiction help us to more readily anticipate change in our own world; some of these changes are not always in humanity’s best interest. More often than not, this type of writing explores the sequence of events that can lead to ethical and social problems produced by technological developments.”
Trustees were told that the assessment of students’ understanding of course material will include having them complete a “rigorous research based project that will allow them to explore this complex genre on their own.”
The science fiction course and a second new half-year “literary fantasy” course will “combine focus on a tradition of literature that has existed since Homer first sung the verses of the Odyssey,” states the rationale for the new course. “In fact, many of us have been surrounded by fantastic literature from our youth. Currently, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, Star Wars and The Man in the High Castle permeate popular culture. Schools encourage the reading of fantastic literature throughout classes, albeit in different contexts, such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Simply put, fantasy explores what is impossible, while science fiction explores what could be possible. Students in these courses will gain an understanding of the historical and cultural implications of science fiction and fantasy.”
The course prerequisite is English 11 Regents or another eleventh grade English course, such as AP Language and Composition or AP Seminar. Annual registration for the new class is estimated at 29 seniors.
It is estimated that materials for the course will run about $60 per student or approximately $1,800 in all.