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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: October ::
Re: Classroom Strategies
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1061.  Wednesday, 22 October 1997.

[1]     From:   Mike Sirofchuck <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997 00:01:16 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies

[2]     From:   Mary Jane Miller <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997 12:19:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1033  Re: Classroom Strategies

[3]     From:   Louis C Swilley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997 13:26:26 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies

[4]     From:   Rod Osiowy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997 17:01:07 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies

[5]     From:   Michael Skovmand <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Oct 1997 10:01:01 MET
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Sirofchuck <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997 00:01:16 -0800
Subject: 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies

I feel moved to respond to the young man whose teacher was not about to
allow mere high school students to decimate the words of the Immortal
Bard.  As a genuinely sincere positive student response I do respect his
credibility.  However, if we are to convince students that Shakespeare
is indeed accessible and relevant to all, how can any teacher in good
conscience adhere to the philosophy that we dare not let them speak it
because they won't do it right?  To read the plays and not ever say the
words seems to me to be irresponsible, if not downright criminal.  My
students and I read every word of the plays we study.  We attempt to act
them out in the classroom and we try to understand the language, the
characters, the themes et al.  Studying Shakespeare is a joint
participatory act during which we all learn a great deal.  It's not easy
and I do cringe at the pronunciations and lack of rhythmic recognition,
but gently correct and try to teach such recognition.  Let them say it
and act it - what harm beyond the supposed sensibilities of some
arrogant pseudo-teacher who thinks we peons may be allowed to hover on
the fringe but never enter into the realm until we are worthy.

(End of rant)

Mike Sirofchuck
Kodiak High School

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Jane Miller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997 12:19:30 -0400
Subject: 8.1033  Re: Classroom Strategies
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1033  Re: Classroom Strategies

This debate puzzles me.

I have theatre, dramatic literature and English students in my classes.
I reiterate throughout the year that the page contains much of
interpretive potential  and that the stage represents choices made and
new perceptions available only from performance. Students do both
theatre research and close reading presentations and we do a workshop -
only a morning but it helps the English students and they all enjoy it.
The dialogue (and the different skills)  make for some interesting
classes.

One of my nagging  problem is that none of them have heard of scansion
as a way of getting more out of the text-so I gave in this year ( we had
it in grade 9 which dates me)  and tried more formally to find a way to
help them develop that ear for rhythm. We'll see of I succeeded .

Mary Jane

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis C Swilley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997 13:26:26 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies

By now, it must be clear to anyone who has been reading this thread on
classroom strategies for teaching Shakespeare that there are at least
two approaches: one from the aspect of examination of the text for
performance, the other from the aspect of examination of the text as
story or poetry.

If a play is examined as poetry or as story, the characters become
devices, statements, to convey a structured whole, an argument, a
network of significant ideas. This aspect cannot tolerate the approach
of an actor, whose attention is given to immediate line-by-line
discoveries of the character - as in life itself. For an actor, the
character must not presume to know that he is in a play conveying the
playwright's structure of ideas; this would be the death of any
performance, surely.  (*pace*, for the moment, Pirandello).

The competent director must be in touch with both aspects; he must know
what the play "means" and he must be able to guide his actors in their
life-like discoveries without distracting them with his own insight into
the ideas of the whole play.

The ideal teacher of a play is an ideal director; he or she is able to
point out to the student both the structure of ideas of the play and the
psychological "rightness" of the character's reactions.

L. Swilley

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rod Osiowy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997 17:01:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies

Some encouraging posts.  When I "teach" Shakespeare's plays, I must look
at who the clients are.  My grad students will certainly enjoy exploring
the text and reading essays on possible meanings of passages, and I
emphasize "possible" since there are many possible interpretations
(hence the work of this listserv, and that of many individuals here).
To fully "understand" the text "off the page" is to make an
interpretation of it, be it correct, creative or otherwise.

My own children have had the experience of acting in many Shakespearean
productions and usually develop some earlier understandings of the text
than many of the adult actors.  I can only attribute this to their
youthful lack of fear about making mistakes.  High school students enjoy
interpreting scripts and making creative hypotheses of textual meanings
as much as anyone;  for them to support their views with research is
sometimes another matter, but for them to act out their work often leads
them to new discoveries.

What I try to remember in teaching Shakespeare is the same thing which
applies to anything that is taught.  Learners learn in different
styles.  Some are better suited for auditory learning (hence the use of
professional tapes and oral readings), some learn visually (going to see
plays, watching videos, reading books, and chalkboards), and some learn
through physical means (acting out, copying notes etc..)

If I want someone to understand a text I can make them understand some
meanings through book and chalk talk but to make them appreciate what a
Shakespeare script is, and to make them enjoy it...hmmm Well, most
people enjoy watching plays, acting plays, directing plays, teaching
plays...emphasis on the word play.  And, I usually start with the names
of the characters and their relationships to each other on a chalkboard
or with a discussion, or over coffee.

When Shakespeare's work is acted out on stage, the better productions
are those where you can understand the director's interpretation of the
relationships of the characters on stage without having to hear the
words at all (although they do help).  I've seen some interesting
Stoppard productions which I'm sure made sense only to the players.
Usually entertaining though, and they always allow the audience some
latitude for their own interpretation, like any work of art.

RodO

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Skovmand <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Oct 1997 10:01:01 MET
Subject: 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1057  Re: Classroom Strategies

Regarding the Hawkes controversy:

Correction, please: Amis did not set Lucky Jim in Wales - it was set at
an unspecified  red-brick university in England. *That Uncertain
Feeling*, however, (as well as * The Old Devils*) was set in Wales...

Michael Skovmand
U. of Aarhus, Denmark
 

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