Sunday, 5 August 2012

Starting Shakespeare

A couple of my new trainees are slightly nervous of starting teaching with Shakespeare in September. Just to prove it isn't only a problem facing new entrants to the profession, an experienced former colleague is equally nervous about teaching Julius Caesar to a set of KS3 students with low levels of literacy. 

I pointed that colleague in the direction of the excellent collaboration between Warwick University and the RSC ( and particularly the 'whoosh' sample lesson and resource they have on the website. Active is the way to go when it comes to engaging students in Shakespeare - whether they are 5 or 15, and no matter how well they get on with the text or not. 

We also visited Mary Arden's House and Anne Hathaway's cottage yesterday, both of which are owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. 

In the shop at Anne Hathaway's cottage (above) we found the excellent Rough Guide to Shakespeare by Andrew Dickson, who is the Guardian theatre critic and honorary fellow in English at Birckbeck College, London. He is also, apparently, an alumnus of Ermysted's for those of you still following from back in the day in Skipton. Which is the point of this longwinded explanation. The Rough Guide to Shakespeare is brilliant for the English teacher or trainee wondering where to start with Shakespeare's plays. It skims you through the major points of each play, the interpretation, the major productions through the ages and introduces you to some good criticism and other resources. So when I see my trainees next, I shall be recommending it to them.

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