Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Back To School Ideas?

Well, it’s school time again.  My 8 and 6yr old daughters went off this morning, their 4yr old brother heads off to preschool next week.

I am hoping that we’ll have some students (of whatever age) stop by to talk about Shakespeare, even if it’s just to get help with their homework.  Sometimes our discussions end up with a fairly high barrier to entry, like you’ve got to be an experienced Shakespeare geek before you can play, and I want to make sure random visitors know that this is not the case.

I think that we should spend some more time on the basics – plot summaries, character sketches, that sort of thing.  I suppose I can do whatever I want, it’s my site :), but I want to put up content that will appeal to a wide audience.

So, I’m casting for ideas.  If you’re a student (and by that I mean high school, college, or what have you), what would you like to talk about?  If you’re already a Shakespearean of whatever flavor, what do you think we should spend some time talking about?  I’d like to strike a balance between content that is useful and welcoming to folks who are hesitant to dive into Shakespeare, without boring those that would much rather dig deeply into the trickier questions.


Mark said...

As those who have spent time on my blog know, I'm into the deep intellectual stuff as much as a more fun-oriented view of Shakespeare. But I became a Shakespearian because the way I was taught Shakespeare was different from the way many people were taught, at least as far as they've explained it to me.

There was an article in The New Yorker a while back about youth and dystopia fiction. The thesis was that, for adults, dystopia fiction is about a warning of the future, but for youth, dystopia is about the difficulties of now. The challenges of youth.

I think we grown-ups (I'm hardly one of those :P) sometimes forget just how hard growing up can be, and I think showing kids that Shakespeare relates to their struggles is a good way to get them interested. Take Othello, for instance. Dating, love, jealousy, and sex are big issues for kids. Or maybe the Henry IV plays, and the way Hal has heavy expectations heaped on him because of his father.

I had a teacher in college who told me his first teaching job was in an inner-city high school, and he was trying to get these disenchanted kids into Shakespeare. He taught them Macbeth, and for a while they weren't interested. But then they got to the lines, "I have no words. My voice is in my sword." That was something these kids understood: people not talking and committing violent acts instead. My voice is in my fist/knife/gun. That's when they started to take an interest.

catkins said...

I think the topics you come up with, Duane, and the commentary on the site are generally interesting enough for all comers. What you can do to make it welcoming to new visitors is to keep everyone from taking Shakespeare knowledge for granted. So, for example, when someone quotes a line, or names a character, it helps if the source is mentioned. If they do not do it, the moderator should help out and supply the missing details. Same with jargon or abbreviations (or ask for a reminder of meaning).

Stacie said...

This blog is a treasure trove, really. I can always rely on you for all the breaking Shakespeare news, which is wonderful when I'm not really in a position to check out a full feed.

If I may make a request of sorts, revisiting (because I'm sure it's been done before I followed this this closely) music or madness (or both) in the plays would incredibly helpful. I'm sorting through a plethora of information, preparing to go into my senior seminar class, and am planning on working with Shakespeare. (Because, really, what else is there?)
Thank you for all your work and devotion here; it's always amazing!