Discussion in 'General Chat' started by tiecollector, Jul 3, 2009.
You mean the lady from Touched by an Angel was a poet too?
Capable, yes. But why? This is your last chance to teach kids that books and plays can be gateways to creativity and worlds filled with love and aliens and ghosts and space and every thought that has ever made its way from pen to paper. After this age they can elect not to study it any further, and I honestly don't believe that Shakespeare is the man to bring back those kids who haven't caught the bug yet.
I say this as a passionate reader with an English degree and who sees probably 5 Shakespeare plays per year at the Globe (well worth a trip if you're ever there btw).
I just don't see that Shakespeare is a good way to get kids interested in stories. Give them The Slaughterhouse Five, or even The Remains of the Day if you want something a little less crazy. But the Mechanicals putting on a play within a play while Puck gets some four-way lovin' set up? In words that bare very little resemblance to modern language?
Blackhood gets it.
Why not just go with all graphic novels?
It isn't about avoiding language altogether - its about using your last few years of a captive audience to force them to read something that might light a fire under them instead of taking your last chance to force feed them something you know they're unlikely to enjoy.
Graphic novels have words.
Obviously the level of preparedness and receptivity varies widely among student populations, but I think you underestimate the traction things like Shakespeare can get with 9th graders. Not all of them, of course, but nothing is going to take with all of them. But it's much more likely to take hold with a bit of pushing and guidance from competent teachers. As I said above, the process of doing a small amount of intellectual work to reap great rewards has great value in itself. If you only teach things that are easy and obvious you're a shitty teacher. And again, kids who don't like to read by 9th grade have had years and years of being encouraged to read "fun" books by that point. The odds that making them jump through the 23rd identical hoop will yield a different result than the previous 22 strike me as pretty slim.
Oh, and thanks for the recommendation. Years ago I was lucky enough to see a performance of A Midsummer N's D at the Globe. It was great.
I think there is Shakespeare that has its place. You may not want to slog them through the big tragedies at first, but the comedies work well, especially if you can get the kids to a semi-decent performance as a supplement.
We tackled Midsummer's in 8th grade and it was fine. I don't recall if we used a modernized language version or not...but I think it was the original text (and we did all have to memorize the "Set your heart at rest..." passage). You can also get copies of books that include plain English translations alongside the text or in the footnotes.
I am sure we did more in 9th grade--recollection is fuzzy, but maybe everyone read Romeo and Juliet and then everyone had to choose another play (probably all comedies) to read and present on to the class. Didn't try to do Hamlet until we were segregated off into the IB English class in either 11th or 12th grade (and I doubt the people in "normal" English had to read it).
And of course, barring having access to a decent middle-school friendly produciton (which shouldn't be hard...there is always a highschool nearby with a decent drama department who is doing a comedy), you have a ton of movie renditions--let Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger show the kids why Shakespeare is still relevant.
Interesting. I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure if I agree. With most of the comedies, it's almost all about the wordplay, or in some instances the physical comedy. The former requires an especially close reading to appreciate, and the latter the ability to visualize some version of production. With the tragedies, the emotion and energy underlying some of the key plot points is pretty easy to grasp and relate to even if you're not picking up on all of the linguistic nuance. That's presumably one reason Romeo and Juliet is such a staple for that age group. And things like Hamlet's anger at his mother or Lear's pain as he wails with Cordelia's body in his arms are a bit easier to grasp than some of Puck's double entendres.
And I think for the most part the tragedies have turned out better as movies, too. If you're hung over from the faculty party and need a nap, you can just pop in Ran, Branagh's Henry V, or West Side Story to keep the kids distracted.
9th grade is the new 3rd grade now that they're all children until 26. No 3rd grader should be expected to understand or appreciate actual literature when they think Thomas the Tank Engine is the height of sophistication.
Edit - Also, Ran is one of the best films ever made. But I wouldn't expose that to someone who hasn't undergone puberty. Blind man on a cliff is just too tragic an ending for their delicate eggshell minds to comprehend. Plus subtitles, and most of them can't read.
Ran the Kurosawa film?
I don't think most 9th graders could sit through that. Would be bored out of their minds 10 minutes in
Children should be seen and not heard in Grade 9. WTF are you all talking about?
Dood, a minor niner would have the Chinese chicken, the chickety chicken, and totally get it.
I see what you are saying but things are getting pushed down actually. Kids are being direct taught in pre-k and it is really sad.
There's another Ran?
Ran would require a trigger warning, of course.
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