Shakespeare’s works can be introduced and taught to students of all ages. To get your younger (elementary and middle school) students interested in reading Shakespeare, have them first read some books that will entertain and teach them more about the time period. I will review and suggest some different books in this category over the next few weeks.
Susan Cooper’s King of Shadows is about an American boy, Nat, who is picked to perform with a new acting company who will perform at London’s new copy of the Globe, the theater William Shakespeare performed in. Nat goes to bed sick one night, wakes up well, but finds himself in the 16th century expected to perform at the original Globe with his costar, William Shakespeare.
Reading this book will give students a feel for the theater, the time period Shakespeare lived and performed in, and will introduce them to the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A website that contains discussion questions and suggested activities for this book is: http://www.multcolib.org/talk/guides-king.html.
The new movie Anonymous has just come out in theaters, causing an old controversy to arise. Did William Shakespeare of Stratford really write all of those amazing plays & sonnets?
This is an interesting argument and one that can be used in your classroom as a great way to learn some debating skills. Two opposing websites are: http://www.doubtaboutwill.org & http://www.shakespeareauthorship.com. Both of these present interesting arguments and could be used as a subject for debate for your high schoolers.They provide links and essays to try and prove their point. The first ‘Doubt About Will’ even has a Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare. They complain that orthodox scholars say there is no room for doubt and that it’s not even an important question. They argue that there is reasonable doubt and that it is an important question for anyone seeking to understand his works, the culture in which they were produced, and the nature of their literary creativity and genius.
Those for Shakespearean authorship complain ‘Antistratfordians try to seduce their readers into believing that there is some sort of “mystery” about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works. They often assert that nothing (at most very little) connects Wm. Shakespeare of Stratford to the works of Wm Shakespeare, the author . . . These are astounding misrepresentations that bear little resemblance to reality.’
So, as educators, how much does it matter if these works were written by one certain man or not? If it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that William Shakespeare is not the genius playwright most of us were taught he was, does that mean we stop reading and teaching the ‘works of Shakespeare’?
I believe these works have lasted several centuries for many reasons and those reasons have little or nothing to do with who actually wrote them. Disproving authorship may change the way we teach the works and certainly change what we think about Will and the importance of his life–but the times he lived in, the history of the theater, and the actual plays themselves are still full of history, human drama, incredible wordplay, and they are a great way to teach the history of the English language.
In my next post, I will include some teaching aids for teaching Shakespeare for all ages in the form of books and websites.
Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. Psalm 71:17-18
I will be posting ideas, helps, and available sites for homeschoolers–specifically in Union County, NC. I will be focusing on the literary and history side of teaching. I will also be checking out local support groups. Feel free to tell me about your group and how they have helped you to be a better homeschooler.