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‘Serial’ Edges Out Shakespeare | O, What Learning Is!

By November 25, 2014 No Comments

Welcome, readers!  This week in education news, we have a couple of competitive events and an educator spotlights that pits Shakespeare’s works against the demands of the new Common Core …

Competitions, Competitions

The English-Speaking Union’s annual Shakespeare Competition is already underway and schools like Northeast Florida High School are beginning to register for the event. Each year, area high schools hold their own Shakespeare contests in the fall and send their winners on to compete at the regional level. Contestants recite a monologue or sonnet and first-place winners receive a trip to New York to compete at the national level in April. The winner of the national competition travels to England for performance training and study.

Meanwhile, ten schools recently performed at the Stratford Festival’s Studio Theatre and had the opportunity to work with Festival professionals to prepare their chosen Shakespeare scenes. Presentations at the event are adjudicated and students receive feedback, but the Festival does not select a specific winner.

OSF Engaging with Students

Actors Joe Wegner and Laura Montes of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival recently visited Woodburn Arts and Communications Academy students at Woodburn High School in Oregon. The two performed at WACA and the Academy of International Studies to perform excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays and lead interactive workshops in a program designed to demonstrate how Shakespeare’s works can relate to the modern teenage life. Wegner and Montes appeared as part of the OSF’s School Visit Program, which travels to schools throughout California, Kansas, Oregon, and Washington. The School Visit Partnership Program provides teachers with professional development training.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival School Visit Program

Serial is In, Shakespeare is Out

Michael Godsey, a high school teacher in California, has opted to study the wildly successful podcast Serial instead of Shakespeare in his classroom.  The nation’s move toward the Common Core heavily influenced Godsey’s decision, as Slate explained in its article exploring the reasons for (and reactions to) his choice:

“Godsey’s decision was inspired partly by the Common Core standards, which, among other things, emphasize critical thinking skills and call for many high school teachers to incorporate more nonfiction into the classroom.”

Indeed, Godsey explained the eight major reasons why he covers Serial as a unit of study on his blog earlier this month and he concludes the list with his lengthiest point, highlighting the state’s requirements for testing. He directly contrasts teaching Serial with Shakespeare’s works on a couple of occasions, but mostly sticks to the pedagogical reasons why the podcasts merit inclusion under the new standards.

Teaching Shakespeare in India

The New Indian Express profiles Professor Jonathan Gil Harris, the Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of English at Ashoka University, Sonepat, Haryana, NCR Region. Professor Harris previously taught at George Washington University and he recently hosted a workshop at Ashoka University that imagined whether Shakespeare would work as a Bollywood director if he were alive.  Harris’ workshop, however, was primarily focused on allowing students to hear Shakespeare’s works rather than read them. Harris hoped it would help participants lose any apprehension they might feel about the language.

Other Bits of Interest

  • On November 21, students from Boxgrove Primary School and Sarah Bonnell School performed Shakespeare at the Mayor’s Education Conference in London. Sarah Bonnell School presented extracts from Richard III and Boxgrove Primary School performed scenes from Twelfth Night. Both groups participated in a Q&A session to discuss their experience in the Shakespeare Schools Festival.

 

Have any thoughts about the above stories? What do you think about replacing Shakespeare with modern entertainment media? Seen any of the performances or participated in any of the workshops? Drop us a line, let us know, and start the conversation …

 

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