Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Teaching and Learning in These Days: Your Stories Continued

Last week we posted some of what you brilliant teaching colleagues have been sharing with us about teaching in today’s world. Today, as promised, we’re posting more of your comments and stories.

From Chasidy in Tennessee

I spend so much time with my students on how literature reflects our own flaws and reveals truth. As in all English classes, we talk a lot about the power of words – how they harm, how they help, how they heal. We also talk a lot about how they can be mistaken, misused, misinterpreted, and how we manage that, especially in today’s political climate. So I got to thinking about truth – and I turned to photographs. My students LOVE to talk about photographs. I gave my students this quote today:  “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” ― William Carlos Williams

​After a long conversation about what this means, troubles with poetry, news, power, and people, I introduced their next essay. They are composing a photo essay with one purpose – give a voice to the voiceless. I asked them to consider who the voiceless are in our world. How are they feeling right now? What would they say if they had a platform? How can an image someone captures offer someone a voice? They came up with a list ranging from the homeless, to children to refugees to immigrants, to women, to African Americans, and so on. 

Students are choosing a subject that allows us to explore the perspective of the voiceless. They are considering war, immigration, poverty, healthcare, education, hunger, etc. and weaving a narrative together using images of the voiceless, all while expressing some kind of thematic idea. 

I have lofty ambitions for this assignment. I am hoping my students can transcend beyond their sometimes sheltered perspectives and know that there is a world that is hurting and in need of love. My students must see and hear from the voiceless – now more than ever. 

Just some thoughts I had on a cloudy day in Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks for listening and for spreading the love. That is what the Folger does best! 

From Rachel in Israel:

Response to your email [which read,] “You are beacons of light to the world, teaching kids to be curious, truthful, inclusive, and kind”:

And SO much more!! Teaching kids to recognize contradiction; to recognize certain types of thinking; to recognize when people are using rhetoric rather than facts and logic; to think independently and not get caught up in ANY crowd just because of the images and language they use. Values, they (ideally) get from their parents; critical thinking, they get from their teachers. (Although of course the best is both from both.)

If you can decipher what Shakespeare is saying, recognizing when someone is speaking incoherent gobbledygook is a piece of cake.

Wishing you every success!

Thanks for sharing, Chasidy and Rachel.