Here lies the question...
Q: Cay, will you be offering the Shakespeare again next year?/ Mrs. Gibson, Ms. Cay, or Yo! Teacher! can we do Shakespeare again this fall?
A: (To the class) I'm not sure right now, honey. I'm still discerning.
(To the rest of you) I'm undecided whether to do the Shakespeare class again this year or not. The class and their parents really give me too much credit. Believe me, I am not Alice G. Not even close.
Remember the full-fledged Shakespeare 101 I set out to do this past year?
I was asked to teach a local literature class for high schoolers. The director and I agreed that every high schooler should cover Shakespeare at some point and we figured parents would be thrilled with the prospect of their teenager(s) being able to receive a required high school credit.
Prematurally I felt insufficient to teach the class but I thought of how it was something I could offer other parents, a chance to relieve a light burden, a chance to give back to the hsing community, a chance to have fun with an older group of children versus teaching a younger group.
I figured I might even learn a little something about Shakespeare that I was never taught in high school (or college). I went into the class to teach a literature study...with all my notes and portfolios, etc....thinking I might be a few steps ahead of them, determined to do a college-level study and have happy parents beam with pride over their high schooler's nicely-noted and kept notebooks.
Silly me! You know what? You can't teach a college-level course when you're only meeting every other Monday. [LOL]
Besides, my class had other plans. They wanted to do a whole play. I freaked! But I had a wonderful role model to look to. Two actually.
First I refocused on the words of English educator Charlotte Mason about "Masterly Inactivity" and decided to practice "wise passiveness":
"Perhaps the idea is nearly that conveyed in Wordsworth's even more happy phrase, 'wise passiveness.' It indicates the power to act, and the insight and self-restraint which forbid action."
"The mastery is not over ourselves only; there is also a sense of authority, which our children should be as much aware of when it is inactive as when they are doing our bidding.",
"They are free under authority, which is liberty; to be free without authority is license."
(Volume 3, pages 28 - 29)
I'm still not sure I have "Masterly Inactivity" interpreted correctly but for this class at this time it worked well.
Perhaps too well...after our first play, the children went immediately into plannning next year's performance. I was very happy with their enthusiasm and the reception of their performance, but it's humbling because basically I stepped back and let the class take over.
I can take no credit.
My second mentor (from afar) was Alice Gunther. I followed the wise example of Alice's lead and believed (because of her example) that the children would embrace a love and ownership for Shakespeare if I put them in charge of their fate.
These young people took their claim to new heights. They voted on the play, wrote a condensed version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, got together outside of class at least once a week to practice, came up with their own costumes and props, put on the performance of a lifetime, and stunned the audience. They made it their own and they truly "owned" it.
They pulled it off grandly. Shakespeare would have been so proud. I know I was.
And so, I hate to disappoint a group of enthusiastic troupadours yet I see the new school year looming ahead along with gas prices. And I'm trying to focus on lesson plans for my children and I promised my husband to watch my commitments this year, and, of course, my commitments to my family must come first. And
teaching coaching a class is a huge commitment and I am dealing with this irksome syndrome ;) and I keep thinking the children would be served best by a drama teacher over a literary teacher.
Shakespeare's plays were, afterall, meant to be performed, not read. That is the reason for the demise of Shakespeare as it is used in English classrooms across our nation.
I do know that whatever happens, whatever is decided, God will bless the work abundantly. I also know this group of teenagers are some of the smartest, most literate, exceptionally creative group of teenagers I've been blessed to study with. They put into practice the famous line:
"To Thine Own Self be True..." ~ Hamlet
And I know they will all succeed...with or without me.