As I read, read, read through the Charlotte Mason Digital Archives about Shakespeare, as well as prepare for King Lear in our TBG Community this fall, I am struck by the word “enjoy”. Over and over again, I read of teachers saying how the students, even the youngest, enjoy Shakespeare! It is my hope that your students do, too. Or at least that they will eventually.
Shakespeare is a tremendous part of a Charlotte Mason education. Let’s make sure as we prepare that we are letting Shakespeare do the talking. Keeping the teacher talk to a minimum is important. Proper scaffolding for the newcomers to this feast is key, too. Vocabulary? Well, yes, this might be good. But don’t overdo it – nothing kills the lesson more than going on and on with words YOU didn’t know. I have rarely done this with Shakespeare. The students either figure it out from context, check out the notes, or ask if something is confusing to them.
So the quote at the top seems almost scandalous in our world of mastery and atomization of every subject*. Mastery in that we make sure not a jot or tittle is misunderstood and atomization in that we break everything down into the smallest, understandable pieces for the student, thinking this will aid their digestion. But with Shakespeare, we see the idea of the child as a person – the sacredness of their personality – come shining through. We need to respect them as persons and let them take away from the Shakespeare lessons exactly what they need. And as Shakespeare teaches us about so many things, each student’s needs will be different. They will begin to understand more and more as they go along. They might even become a huge fan of Shakespeare. I’ve seen it happen a few times. (!)
Which brings me back to this idea of enjoyment. If we want our students to enjoy Shakespeare, then we need to enjoy Shakespeare. Your interest, enthusiasm, and perseverance will go a long way when beginning to read the plays. Enjoy!
Teaching from Peace,
*Of course, mastery is crucial in some subjects like mathematics and grammar. But I don’t care for the term. As if we can master any subject! “Building upon understanding” is slightly clearer.
*For more Shakespeare posts, go here and scroll down to “SHAKESPEARE IN OUR COMMUNITY”