Friday, March 05, 2010

Romeo And Juliet’s … Wedding Planner?

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I appreciate the creativity behind the idea, and bookmarked it immediately to back and check it out.

What if Romeo and Juliet really could get married, in a real church wedding, with the blessing of both families?  What would the ceremony look like?

Such is the premise of this teaching unit for grade level 9-12.

http://zunal.com/introduction.php?w=38731

Here’s my problem, though – if you start with that premise, haven’t you basically said “Ok, everything is up for grabs”, and therefore there’s really nothing from the play for you to bring in?  It’s kind of crucial to the play that the Montagues and Capulets hate each other.  You can’t put them in the same room.  So if you start by taking that away, then don’t you lose everything?

The lesson does mention to be careful where you sit people so you don’t start anybody feuding, which I suppose is a pointer in the right direction.  There’s also reference to flowers, and making it clear what will be in season – which sounds to me like a high school teacher’s way of asking the “when does the play take place?” question :).

(I also think that I’d take this more seriously if there weren’t so many spelling errors.  Just because you put together a lesson online doesn’t mean that quality has to suffer, people.  You’re supposed to be English teachers.)

4 comments:

Miss P. said...

I'm appalled. Romeo and Juliette are the last two characters who need to be married--and all the emphasis on creating a "perfect" wedding is outrageous. Where is their marriage counselor who will help them deal with the consequences of their union given that the families hate one another. That's not a recipe for marital bliss, no matter what the "color scheme" and "seating arrangements" happen to be on the big day. Even if the families knew and consented to allow these children to marry, what would happen after the wedding? How will they spend their holidays? Which family will they have dinner with on weekends? How will these two people, as parents, explain to their offspring that Grammy and Grandpy hate Mammaw and Pappaw? I want my students to understand these characters as real people with real problems, not a fantasy along the lines of Taylor Swift's (misguided)song.

Sorry for the sound off, but lessons like this teach all the wrong things.

Christopher said...

I agree with you that this lesson frustratingly dismisses the text in many ways, and yet insists that the students stay true to it in many other ways.

For example, 25% of the student's score is based on seating the guests so that the feuding families won't brawl, even though the premise of the whole project is that the feud of the play has been dissolved, or at least greatly diminished.

Another 25% of the student's score is based on remaining true to Elizabethan custom, but there would have been no seating arrangements at an Elizabethan wedding; There were no seats. Everyone was standing!

Other similar discrepancies include insisting that the student consider the honeymoon and invitations, even though such traditions would not have existed.

This kind of thing drove me crazy when I was in high school. It's just lazy lesson planning for teachers who don't understand the subject matter themselves.

A MUCH more interesting lesson would be for the class to enact a funeral that takes place after the play, after the families have agreed to try and set aside their differences. This would give opportunity for the students to consider what individual characters might say or feel about the deaths, reflect on how the tragedy would affect the families and their feud, and still explore the differences in custom between Elizabethan times and our own.

Dana Huff said...

I will say that assignment is creative, but in my humble opinion as an English teacher who has taught this play with some success for at least 12 years (I lose count), it commits what Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe call in Understanding by Design, one of the "twin sins of design." Usually high school teachers are guilty of the sin of coverage at the expense of depth. We race through material when we look at the calendar and realize it's March and we're still in the Renaissance (hello, that would be me right now). It's usually elementary teachers that commit the sin of stringing together a series of activities that have little or no cohesion.

I think you need to start with the reason to study the play. What big message or idea or theme does it convey? I picked four, and designed my assessment(s) based on those ideas. The problem with this assessment that you've linked to is that it doesn't really address a big idea, theme, message, etc. in the play, which is why it's not really assessing students' understanding, interpretation, analysis, or evaluation of Romeo and Juliet. It's purely a creative assignment. That said, if you read the Teacher page, you see it was created not for an English class but for a Marketing/Career class. I hate to run on and on, but even in that context, I'm not sure it's the best culminating assessment.

Charlie said...

also, aren't they already married? maybe a recreate-the-wedding-that-happens-at-the-end-of-act-2 assignment would be better...