Selling Shakespeare to Key Stage 3 (Begin with Doctor Who ...)

By Tippings, Lisa | NATE Classroom, Autumn 2008 | Go to article overview

Selling Shakespeare to Key Stage 3 (Begin with Doctor Who ...)


Tippings, Lisa, NATE Classroom


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Ah ... September ... The season of pristine uniforms, ties at full mast, eager Year 7 faces, the scent of sharpened pencils and ... Shakespeare!! What is it about this name that inspires so much fear and trepidation in the minds of teenagers everywhere? As Trevor Wright points out:

'Shakespeare is the maths of English. He is also the only compulsory author in the English National Curriculum.'

(How to be a Brilliant English Teacher by Trevor Wright, Routledge 2005--available from NATE catalogue.)

Generally the only pupils not afraid of delving into the Bard's work are the ones doing nothing to stifle their obvious yawns and that's before they have even read a word that he penned.

The following is an account of how we spent a year trying to challenge and change the way our pupils viewed Shakespeare. We focused in particular on students at Key Stage Three, believing firmly that we needed to grab their attention early!

Cultural disadvantages

I teach in a comprehensive school in Blaenau Gwent. The borough is one of the poorest and most deprived in Wales but that doesn't stop us from having intelligent, enthusiastic, lively pupils. The majority of them want to learn and want to succeed but culturally the area is disadvantaged. The live performances and theatre workshops that can play such a vital role in encouraging a respect for Shakespeare are few and far between. I knew therefore that steps had to be taken to change the long held view of pupils in our school; that Shakespeare is boring, a waste of time and completely irrelevant to their lives.

I first realized we had to do something positive after having the following conversation with a pupil in Year 7:

Who can tell me one of Shakespeare's great works?

'Oliver Twist' Miss.

Err ... No. Who can tell me who actually wrote 'Oliver Twist'?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I just told you miss. It was William Shakespeare. The department decided that we had to do something quickly if only to scotch the growing rumour that William Shakespeare had penned the immortal line Please Sir, I want some more.

As Acting Head of English I decided to designate 2007/2008 as Tredegar's very own National Year of Shakespeare. I began by giving a selection of pupils from Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 a questionnaire in order to assess their feelings about studying his plays. Their responses held no surprises. The majority of pupils were just plain scared, others found the whole idea of studying Shakespeare boring and whilst I was relieved that not too many more pupils thought he had written Oliver Twist there was, in their answers, an overwhelming sense of 'Shakespeare? So what?' As a department we were going to have to be as proactive as possible in order to celebrate Shakespeare and his great works.

Background resources

Believe it or not our journey began with Doctor Who. As a way of introducing Shakespeare to our Year 7 and 8 pupils we allowed them to watch the episode entitled The Shakespeare Code. The Doctor's journey back in time to Elizabethan England allowed the pupils to visualize the streets of London, the Globe theatre and the fashions of the day, all in an entertaining, non-threatening way. Pupils are so often hampered in their understanding by their basic lack of knowledge of the period. We have also begun a Shakespeare resource box--a simple idea but one which is proving effective. Students can use the box which contains various books about Shakespeare, his life and times, facsimile memorabilia and a model of the Globe (made by some artistic Year 9 pupils) to deepen their understanding of the playwright and the time in which he wrote. It also enables them to be independent in their own learning. They can find out what they need to know when they need to know it.

Live performances

We were also fortunate in that a Welsh theatre company performed a modern version of Much Ado About Nothing in a local theatre. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Selling Shakespeare to Key Stage 3 (Begin with Doctor Who ...)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.