It’s half term in the UK which means that teachers across the country are taking a week’s break from classes to reflect, rest and plan the second half of the autumn term.
It’s an opportunity to see what new resources are out there that might be useful in the classroom and, as such, here’s a round up of the more interesting things out there in the educational world of Shakespeare this week:
Benefits to watching Shakespeare:
Recent academic research states that visits to the theatre have many benefits for school children, and not just literary benefits. Researchers from the University of Arkansas suggest that field trips to theatres increase tolerance and empathy in those attending. Further findings from this study are due to be released later this year.
On this very note, the Globe Theatre in London has put together a half term programme of events for youngsters to attend, named Shakespeare Untold. Designed for those of six years and upwards these plays are stories told by the lesser known characters in Shakespeare, such as Titus’ pie maker! Sounds like a great way to engage your children with the world of the bard in a non threatening way and by focusing on the key element: storytelling!
Stories are, after all, what unite us all when we get absorbed by his plays. In India, Professor Gil Harris, also the President of the Shakespeare Society of India, has used the stories within the plays to bring his students closer to understanding Shakespeare. Linking to the use of oral traditions, so common in Indian literature, Harris finds that the themes of Shakespeare plays are also very accessible in Indian culture and as a result, the words become accessible too.
Books for your library
Kelly Hunter’s (RSC actress) new book (released in December) looks at making Shakespeare accessible to those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. She uses key lines from Shakespeare plays with sensory games to break down barriers with autistic children. Her book will contain information on how to play these games in your own classroom.
Another book which sounds of huge benefit in the classroom is Michael Pennington’s Sweet William in which he reflects in great detail on the many Shakespeare plays that he has been involved with during his acting career. Most famous probably for Henry V; there is much information here that would give insight for older students, teachers and lecturers.
Finally, a bit of fun to try: Apple have produced the Swipespeare App for ipad and iphone which allows you to see a modern translation of your Shakespearean text on your screen when you swipe. The App also contains a Shakespeare dictionary and biography. If you know a child who is surgically attached to their phone or ipad, perhaps Swipespeare might be a good addition!
So, enjoy this autumnal weather and use the time indoors to read the vast array of books and articles out there which support our teaching of Shakespeare.