Saturday, August 27, 2011

Here we go again.

I've not blogged in months and this can be attributed to a many factors, the biggest, and most important one being that I've not really known what to write about. While this has still not changed for the most part, I'm trying not to give in to lethargy and write something.

Much has changed in my little world of teaching since last I posted. I have made discoveries and blunders that have altered my outlook in some regards and cemented my opinions in others.

I suppose the most pressing thing to discuss would be Shakespeare. I'm busy teaching Romeo & Juliet to my 9s and Macbeth to my 10s and I'm loving it. Let me put that more clearly: teaching these two plays has given me an energy and zest for teaching beyond anything I've experienced so far. There's something about the richness of the text, the possibilities for performance and the engagement of my students that just makes it the most marvelous thing to do in the world at the moment. I'm still figuring out how best to teach it to get the students to understand the text and to become competent at answering questions on the setworks, but this will come in time. For now I'm more concerned with getting the students to fall in love with something that I feel so passionately about, because I really do believe that Shakespeare (if used correctly ;) ) can change someone's life.

I remember how I hated the stories and dreaded studying Shakespeare with a passion when I was in primary school. That all changed in grade 9 when we did a film study of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet which was--and still is--one of the most incredible films I'd seen. Watching that film took all of my preconceptions and threw them through the nearest window. The stale, boring and pointless plays that I'd heard people complain about for years suddenly became fresh, vivid and engaging and awakened an appetite for more. I must point out that I didn't immediately launch on a quest to read everything, but I had a new way of looking at things.

As usual, I have resorted largely to talking about things which I are not terribly invaluable to anyone in particular, but let me cut through all of the melodramatic pouring out of emotion and say this: when I discovered Shakespeare, I found myself. That is pretty significant, if not to whoever's reading this, then at least to me. I teach Shakespeare not because it's in the syllabus, but I teach it to show students that it is alive, powerful and potentially life changing. If I teach for 40 years and only convert one student, it will all have been worth it.

Right. Enough guff. 'Til next time.