Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Through Fresh Eyes

Students from HSFP 2012 celebrate being done with their presentations.

This week, the High School Fellowship class gave their final presentations on their semester-long research paper and illumination projects. It’s always exciting to see what they’ve come up with to present. Near the beginning of the semester, they’re given the parameters for their project: write a 5 page research paper on one of the 3 plays we’re studying, and create an illumination project to explore the theme of the paper further. Throughout the first few weeks, they have regular group sessions with members of our Division to flesh out their ideas, and edit down to a specific topic to cover.

I learned a lot from them this year. I learned that the moon plays a heavy role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream – so much so that it’s mentioned in the first and last lines of the play, as well as every opportunity in between. I saw again that even though Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are seemingly disposable characters, they are variously represented in modern drama – for example, Laurence Olivier cut them out almost completely, while Tom Stoppard wrote an entire existential play about them. And I learned that the best dish to cure a phlegmatic humor is a spinach and wild-berries chicken salad.

It’s wonderful to see high school students applying their passions to Shakespeare – neurology, cooking, dance, feminism, or even just get passionate about the plays themselves. We know that these are the kids who’ve, for the most part, “drunk the kool-aid,” but it’s no less invigorating when they share and show their love of Shakespeare through their own fresh perspectives.

Have you experienced moments like this in your own class? Let us know!

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