Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Thou Know'st 'tis Common…Ay, Madam, it is Common

The Hot News among English Language Arts teachers this summer (it’s been a slow news cycle) was the initial publication of the Common Core State Standards. Originally announced on June 1, 2009,the initiative’s stated purpose was to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.

And for those of us who teach Shakespeare, the really good news was the inclusion of a Shakespeare play–specifically Macbeth–as a requirement in the Grade 9-10 Standards.

Here’s what the commission said about the standards:

These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards:

  • Are aligned with college and work expectations;
  • Are clear, understandable and consistent;
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
  • Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
  • Are evidence-based

As of July 9, 23 states had decided to replace their standards with the Common Core and by the end of the year, 41 states are expected to have adopted them.

Only Texas and Alaska did not participate in the initiative and are not expected to adopt them.

But Shakespeare was one of the few authors mentioned by name, and the Folger has lots of fabulous lesson plans on Macbeth and a wonderful DVD of the production we produced on our stage.

So what do you think about these standards? Will your state be adopting them? Will it finally convince some reluctant administrators that Shakespeare should be taught in high school? You tell us.