Camilla Bianchi, ‘19
Once again, BHSEC students started the new school year with Writing and Thinking workshops, where students were mixed in different classrooms with peers from all grades and with different teachers, both new and old. In these classrooms, the students wrote, discussed pieces of writing, and, hence the name of the workshop, thought at a higher level. This workshops were meant to ease the students into the back to school routine and to help new students bond with people from different grades and to get a sense of what BHSEC will be like. Nevaeh, 9th grade, says, “I liked it [Writing and Thinking]. It made the school week go by fast. I liked writing and not being graded on it. I also bonded with the people in my class and it was great.”
This year’s Writing and Thinking lasted five school days, a big change from last year’s workshops. The extension from three to five days caused students to have varying opinions. Anwen, 10th grade, recounted, “At first I thought it was ridiculous, but after going through it I realized that I enjoyed an extended Writing and Thinking.” On the other hand, Leah and Giselle, both Y1s, said that five days for them was too long, and they felt tempted to come late at times. Professor Walk also gave her opinion on the matter, saying that five days gave students a chance to bond more with each other, which is something that “you can’t do in three days.” Being that Writing and Thinking was originally five days long, this year’s change honors the tradition that was originated 15 years ago, when BHSEC was founded. However, even the people that did not enjoy the extended time overall enjoyed the workshop. Lea, Y1, added, “I liked the people. I thought it was more interesting than last year.”
Like previous years, this year’s workshop was based on a theme. Professor Walk shared that Writing and Thinking workshops did not originally have themes, but “they started having themes to help us have coherence,” bringing a controlled variety of texts to discuss and write about in the workshops. However, Professor Walk revealed that the risk with themes is that they are sometimes treated like topics, which counteracts the idea that they are supposed to give the teachers freedom to choose texts to read and teach however they want. This year’s theme was “Unstoppable Forces and Immovable Objects,” which according to Professor Walk was a “more playful theme, less directive than we have had [in the past]. It could spin in a lot of different ways.” Professor Walk particularly enjoyed the text “Death By Black Hole” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, because it went in “different directions.” Although this variety made it harder to teach, it also made it more interesting. Marufa, 10th, also enjoyed the theme, saying that “it was particularly interesting to read texts about unstoppable forces that affect our lives.”
This year’s Writing and Thinking allowed BHSEC students to get used to another school year full of intense writing and thinking that is necessary in their classes. It also allowed students of all grades to bond with many different people, and to explore various texts and to discuss them. Writing and Thinking groups will reconvene at various points throughout the year, such as Community Days. Time itself is an unstoppable force; students will just have to wait to see what next year’s workshops bring.