Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Journey to Richard II (Part 11)

Richard II
Shakespeare & Co., Lenox, MA
July 2013
As the 1985-1986 school year approached, I grew ever more nervous--for more than a single reason. Perhaps most worrisome: I was going to have my own son, Steve, in my class of eighth graders, and, as I've written here before, I didn't want anything to threaten the great relationship we had. But next in my Worry List: I was going to teach Shakespeare for the first time to middle schoolers--The Taming of the Shrew.

Before that year began, I thought I might one day want to write about my experiences. So I kept an audio journal. I talked many days into a cassette recorder, then, later (when? I can't remember), I transcribed and printed the pages. (Did I get them all? I still haven't found the tapes.) I also kept two other things: (1) a manila folder into which I put into all sorts of school documents from that year + issues of the local newspaper, the Aurora Advocate--issues that had something to do with school matters; (2) a folder which contained all (ha!) of the homework, quizzes, tests that Steve did in my class that year.

Today, I want to reproduce here some comments I recorded in my diary/journal that year--comments relating to the preparation and teaching of The Taming of the Shrew.

Monday, 2 December 1985: And I spent four hours tonight getting my Shakespeare lecture and presentation ready for class tomorrow, making out notes for the kids to use, and then filling them in myself, rearranging all my slides, plus the additional ones I took for the slide-show part of it. Went to the library to find some Elizabethan music so I can play it while I'm talking, give kids examples of music they [the Eliz.] listened to and liked .... Also spent about 30 bucks on things tonight--folders to hold The Taming of the Shrew scripts [I'd photocopied and printed a class set] ....

14 December 1985: Funny thing happened in class as I was telling them about Shakespeare and about how his marriage to Anne Hathaway was followed six months later by a child. The kids said, "Wait a minute" And I said, "That's right. Shakespeare was messing around--really shaking his spear." Kids went crazy. I haven't heard anything about it yet; I presume I will. [I didn't.]

17 December 1985: Today I began telling the kids about the De Vere-Shakespeare controversy--very interesting. [One boy] stayed after class and said, "Why don't they just dig the guy up? Take ten minutes to explain what people have wanted to know for centuries."

18 December 1985: ... today we looked at the sonnets, and I told them, "There's one thing you should know. No one understands Shakespeare without help." Then I told them they could get the main idea of a sonnet without understanding all of it, and I just read it aloud, and people ... were able to hear "My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing like the Sun" and tell me just exactly what's on Shakespeare's mind. ... [A boy] came in this noon when I was working on some papers, picked up my copy of Shakespeare's sonnets, read a few lines, and said, "You know, this stuff's really cool."

Now that is a good place to stop!

PS--My mistress' eyes ...

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