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Christopher Garten

Head of School
B.A. Comparative Literature, Princeton University
M.A. English Literature, Columbia University

Teaching philosophy

Important skills I want to teach my students

I want students to read and write with greater confidence and to see these as complex skills that require purposeful strategies and reward careful attention. I also want students to view literature as a way to understand what it means to be human, a window onto our shared emotional experiences as human beings.

Teaching methods that reach these goals

At the beginning, I ask a great many guiding questions about each text we read. As the year goes on, I ask students to generate their own questions to guide their own reading. We spend a lot of time in discussion, considering how the texts we read have been structured to provoke particular emotional responses. We also spend a great deal of time connecting each text to other works we have read, again, to train students to recognize recurring narrative patterns.

My favorite projects

At the end of our short story unit, students work in pairs to present one story from Joyce’s Dubliners to their classmates. They read the story multiple times, read background criticism and biography, and then develop study questions and activities to guide their classmates toward a fuller understanding of the story.

What I like best about teaching at Seven Hills

I am moved by our students’ genuine enthusiasm about learning and their willingness to take on more and more adult-like responsibility.