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Academic Curriculum

W.A.V.E. writing workshop for Year 12 Extension students

From the Head of History, Barry Smith and the Head of English Lynsey Porter

Waverley College hosted its first W.A.V.E  (Write Analysis Validate Explain) event for the Year 12 Extension students in both English and History. Designed by the Heads of English and History, the intensive one day writing workshop allowed students to focus on their major creative / interpretative works in both subjects. Firstly, they wrote in silence for two hours, with a focus on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of “flow”. This is a four step process which considers: 1. To get real; that is, Recognise that everything starts with a thought and the world we see reflects our thoughts and beliefs, not the other way around. 2. Get clear; that is, that attention follows desire, and so rather than struggle with ambivalence, apathy or confusion, the key is simply to take a few moments to get clear and self-task set. 3. Step back; that is, trusting and allowing our attention to rest our intent to let our true Self shine through.  This allows the miracle of writing to happen. 4. Relax; that is, enjoy the process.

Next, the students were led to choose specific paragraphs of their narratives for analysis. Did they begin with a firm and succinct topic sentence? Was the paragraph cohesive and purpose-driven? Did it contain literary devices to impart a sense of understanding, uniqueness, perception or interpretation? Were other experts aligned with the student’s own position, theoretical, philosophical or literary?

After lunch both groups turned to focus on the validation of their ideas. For both History and English this resides in specific understandings of the theoretical frameworks they were either working in, appropriating and, in some cases, whether their position on a topic could be easily falsified through a misunderstanding or misreading of key issues, genres, or authors. In other words, how did their work stand up to close academic scrutiny?

Finally, a round table was held, involving the Director of Learning and Teaching and the Heads of English and History. The purpose was to highlight the creative endeavours of the students and, in a sense, mimic some of the processes involved in a post graduate confirmation of topic. Here the students verbalized their topic and intentions. The Heads of English and History then asked pertinent and searching questions of each student, and alluded to further considerations, readings or aspects of the students’ work which needed greater clarification.

The students felt affirmed and many commented on how much and how far their ideas and writing had come with the provision of such a day. It is cognizant to acknowledge the support from the Director of Teaching and Learning, Elizabeth Watson, for this first W.A.V.E day for Waverley Year 12 students engaged with History Extension and English Extension Two.