The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0185 Friday, 25 January 2002
Date: Thursday, 24 Jan 2002 13:12:32 -0500
Subject: Are they too stupid? UPDATE
As some of you may recall, I posted here a while ago saying that I was
thinking of teaching Macbeth and Hamlet to my college freshman.
Yesterday was my first day of lecture/discussion with them about
Macbeth, and I wanted to let you know how it went.
First of all, on the first day of class, I asked the students whether or
not they had read any Shakespeare. All of them raised their hands in the
affirmative (in both classes). I asked how many had read Macbeth (about
50% in the first class, 75% in the second class). Then, I asked how many
had read Hamlet (about 75% in the first class, 90% in the second class).
That was encouraging, I thought, because I wouldn't have to spend TOO
much time on "translation" of language problems, and I thought that the
students would be willing to discuss their previous experiences with
Shakespeare and these two plays.
The first class, yesterday, was not what I would call bad, but it didn't
go as well as I had hoped. Much to my chagrin, they didn't really want
to open their mouths much, and I felt like getting them to answer
questions was somewhat like pulling teeth. Maybe they didn't read it -
or didn't understand it. I gave them a reading quiz - very, very simple
plot points - so when I grade them this evening, I'll know more about
that. But they were very hesitant to say anything. I thought that I
would change my strategy a little for the 2nd class and resort to more
lecture. For some reason, the second class was much more lively and
wanted to discuss things. It was obvious that they were either more
interested or less intimidated.
The larger point is that I feel like I'm doing the right thing - even
though the first class may take more coaxing and leading. (It is right
after lunch though, and they may be suffering from food comma. Who
knows??) Anyway, it was nice to see glimmers of interest in many faces
yesterday - even if not everyone was completely "there". As we move
along and dig deeper into central issues, I will probably let you know
how it's going - if you're interested.
One comment that cracked me up yesterday was this: a student said (after
we looked Act 1.7.61 following... "I have given suck..."), "what the
heck is wrong with that lady? She's nuts."
Guess they aren't too stupid to figure that out!
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