Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Shakespeare or Not Shakespeare?

One of the strongest points we keep coming back to in Folger Education is encouraging teachers to use Shakespeare’s text with their students – no “translations.” The definitions these adapted texts can offer limits the possibilities of Shakespeare’s poetry, and stifles the creativity and energy students bring to learning new words and phrases.

Julia Perlowski led an excellent Webinar on this topic in March, “Shakespeare in Other Words,” in which she compared certain passages from Shakespeare to their updated counterparts to show just how much is lost in translation. She also made a great point that the Common Core Standards require students to study complex texts that challenge their minds. You can view a recording of this presentation HERE!

But how can we make connections between our students and Shakespeare? How can we encourage them to explore Shakespeare’s language with confidence and creativity? For one thing, getting them on their feet with the language discovering Action Clues and other in-text identifiers (which you can learn more about during our upcoming Electronic Field Trip!). For another, we’ll be exploring how two teachers are using Social Media to explore Shakespeare with their classes communicating cross-country with each other in our upcoming May 14th webinar: What’s Done is Done Online.

How are you connecting Shakespeare with your students this year?

One Comment

  • Caitlin asks “how can we make connections between our students and Shakespeare?”

    One solution might be to start when students are younger. I continue to hear truly astonishing anecdotes about the delighted reaction of very young children to hearing Shakespeare’s language. A friend was reading Shakespeare to her eight-year-old, worried she might not be quite old enough to appreciate him. She hadn’t noticed her four-year-old was listening until her younger child gushed, “That’s beautiful!”

    Some friends didn’t have a sitter, so they took their five-year-old to the movies with them when they wanted to see Kenneth Brannagh’s Hamlet. Not only did she surprise them by staying awake the whole time, she wept during the last scenes. When it was over, she said “I’m mad at the man who wrote that! He made me feel so sad!”

    Go figure!

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