Monday, March 11, 2019

Smarty's English Class

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Smarty's English class spends a lot of time this year on Shakespeare. They studied Hamlet in detail for almost 2 months and wrote a 10-page essay in the end where they had to do research on their favorite scene and learn what Shakespearean scholars think about the meaning of that scene. Smarty did hers on Mousetrap where she reflected on whether Hamlet's gambit was successful or not (she thought not). She also learned a whole lot about evolution of English language, history, and some random bobs and bits. She also memorized parts of the play just because she thought it was fun.
Smarty loves Mr W, her English teacher. He is a relaxed teacher who is light on homework and grades. During classes, kids sit around Harkness table and discuss topics at hand. He is not afraid to follow any "rabbit trails" with his students, so that's where various "bobs and bits" of knowledge come from. Smarty also says that he is an amazing artist and he often illustrates his points by drawings on the whiteboard. She is super excited at the thought that she might have him for four more years since he teaches most of English classes in high school. 

Much Ado About Nothing

After Hamlet, the class visited Macbeth, but Mr. W pulled them out after about 3 weeks, because kids (who are still between 11 and 13 years old) were not connecting to the play. Smarty, for example, was saying that, unlike Hamlet, the main character is unlikable and that she was disturbed by the play. He switched to comedies instead (after about a month of detour into Ancient Greek comedies). Now the kids are studying Much Ado About Nothing and Smarty enjoys it a lot. Of course, Beatrice is her favorite character, and she just had a homework on how she imagines Beatrice and Benedick could be played. Once she finished her homework, we watched Much Ado About Nothing movie made in 1993 with Emma Thompson as Beatrice and Kenneth Branagh as Benedick. Even though Smarty does not like movies she really enjoyed this one. 

Modern Day View on Shakespeare

It always amuses me to hear Smarty's views on complex and relationships portrayed in Shakespeare's plays. She was analyzing at length with me whether Hamlet was really mad or just depressed and was blaming his mother for many of the things that happened in the play. She also expressed disbelief that in Much Ado About Nothing Hero still wanted to marry Claudio after he had publicly humiliated her. She said that Claudio sounds like an abusive type and she would never consider marrying him. I hope she won't have to :)

I am really happy that Smarty enjoys her English class. She always had great English teachers but it is the first year where she has enough challenge in her reading material and she has meaningful discussions. I am hoping that she continues to grow as a writer and a thinker under Mr. W's guidance in the next few years.

Your Turn

What do your kids think about Shakespeare?


Min Erva said...

Sounds like a wonderful teacher! We used to read Shakespeare when I was in middle school but these days they moved it to high school probably because they can understand the many layers better when they are older. I personally loved reading Romeo and Juliet. K didn't like it as much because she thought Romeo was a womanizer and not worthy of falling in love. Personally, I believe Shakespeare needs to be seen and/or acted out. There's great drama to watch! K's favorite was As You Like It several years ago.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

That does sound like an inspiring English teacher!

Ticia said...

My daughter loves Shakespeare like I do. The boys are okay with it.

Much Ado is my second favorite Shakespeare play, with Midsummer Night's Dream being my favorite.