Monday, 3 June 2013

Tackling Shakespeare (be careful, he's old)

Personally, I'm a fan of Shakespeare and of  teaching Shakspeare in high schools. I understand that Shakespeare is a different language and therefore is difficult for most people, but I think that that just means that we need to find a different approach to teaching than one would use for other units in English in order to teach it effectively. Many teachers have different ideas and approaches to this, and I would like to purpose my own.

Throughout high school, I've had teachers start the Shakespeare unit simply by starting to read into a play. The first act of the play is always spent teaching the students to look at the text and trying to grasp what Billy Shakes is trying to say. While it's good that the teachers are taking time and easing students into things, I think that there could be a better approach. The first act of the play is where you're meant to gauge who the characters are so you have a frame of reference for the change they make over the rest of the play. It's that rare glimpse of the plot and the characters before everything goes awry. So now you've got the students who are trying to get a grasp of what these strange words actually mean, and at the same time trying to get all the information their meant to in this act. For many students, this can be a very stressful process. I think this is what makes many people dislike Shakespeare. English is a difficult enough course for many people, adding in this obstacle isn't helping. I think if we eliminate the initial panic of starting Shakespeare, the unit will be accepted more openly.

I purpose that each unit be started off with a day or two of sonnets. Just getting into the language in a calm way that doesn't have the chance to hinder their understanding of the main part of the unit.

Moreover, I don't think that students should ever sit down and then be expected to set into reading immediately. There should be at least a recap of what's been going on and maybe a discussion of where things may go. Teachers may even be so keen as to start the class off with a dissection of a Shakspearean quote. Shakespeare doesn't have to be scary, but it's really understandable why it is.

Dude Bros, does this reflect your experience? Would you find this helpful in your learning?

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