I’m probably going to stir up some controversy with this post, but I’m reading The Happiness Project and one of the mantras the author, Gretchen Rubin, continually mentions is “Be Gretchen” so I’m “being Jamie” with this blog post.
As an English teacher, something I’ve been wondering for a long time is why do we teach so much Shakespeare? And, why does it seem like the focus is on decoding the language rather than deeper thinking about the characters, motivations and themes? Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy Shakespeare. I think Hamlet is one sick and twisted character and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet gets me every time, but I know that not many of my students enjoy Shakespeare the way I do yet they are subjected to it almost if not every year in many high schools.
Why aren’t we allowing students to spend more time reading what they consider to be engaging? I know it’s more work on our part but I think the pay off would be much higher and we would likely find some really interesting reading material based on our students’ individual passions. Also, why does reading have to be a play or novel? Why couldn’t it be blogs or online magazines like Zite or even just news articles? I’ve learned so much in the last month alone from accessing Zite on a daily basis and I can see numerous possibilities for such a service in the classroom environment.
In conclusion, I guess where this questioning comes from is that I believe the English classroom has the potential for personalization that some other more content driven disciplines may not and I feel like we are doing our students (and ourselves) a disservice by not exploring these ideas.
What do you think?