Macrat Musings

27
January
2014

‘Now is the winter of our discontent’

Sounds like the title of a South African political discussion, doesn’t it? These opening lines from Richard III, together with the fact that the play is being staged at Maynardville open-air theatre this year, made me consider whether Richard III would be a suitable title to study in Grade 12.

For those of you who, like me, have never taught the play, here are a few pointers:

  • It is one of Shakespeare’s earlier ‘history’ plays and is one of his longest plays. The length could well be a reason why it isn’t (often) prescribed at school level.
  • The director of the Maynardville production, Lara Bye, says that the play resonates with themes relevant to our country: Qualities of good leadership, sacrifice, corruption, factions and greed. “Audiences are endlessly fascinated and repulsed and charmed by the Richard character”.
  • Richard III is the story of a brutal soldier who is scorned by those he put in power. How interesting it would be to see what makes him tick.
  • In a review of the production in The Daily Maverick, Marianne Thamm compares the play to a series such as The Sopranos or Dexter – a feature which would certainly appeal to most of our youth.
  • For me, the lure of teaching this play lies in the character of Richard, who is a villain, a psychopath and murderer, and yet his personality, humour and cunning draws the audience closer to him. “…  Shakespeare’s genius is that he knows the entire world loves a villain, especially one as charming and silver-tongued as this one. So sure is Shakespeare that Richard III (in spite of his misshapen body) will beguile us that he has him talking to us, confiding to us directly like an old friend in asides.” (The Daily Maverick).

Let me hear from you if you taught or studied Richard III? Is it suitable for Grade 12?
MacMo

 

Categories: Macrat Musings

21
January
2014

Should Shakespeare be taught at high school level?

There is a chance that the prescribed works in the national curriculum will change in 2015/2016 and this has made me wonder what approach the selection committee will take. Will they be traditionally conventional (read ‘boring’), or be bold and offer relevant, inspiring titles?

The current national selection provides an alternative to Shakespeare in the form of Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ but the question still remains whether there is any benefit from studying the bard in senior school. As far as I can remember, the IEB has never offered any drama titles other than Shakespeare (for Home Language), but they have prescribed less well-worn  titles such as ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Henry V’ which give teachers an opportunity to explore new characters and themes, and provide learners with insights into worlds not before considered.

The debate about whether Shakespeare is suitable for senior classes continues, and the opinions are varied and emotional.

For me Shakespeare provides valuable insights into the human psyche – insights that have not changed in over 400 years. His portrayal of love, ambition, racism, betrayal, jealousy, honour, friendship etc. still ring true today and teenagers can learn valuable lessons from his plays.

If Shakespeare is to be taught as senior school level, which titles would you like to see prescribed for grade 12? While some titles are often taught at lower grades, perhaps ‘The Merchant of Venice’ or ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is suitable for grade 12. What do you think? Take a look at a ‘top-10’ list of Shakespeare’s plays to see if you agree with the list and any of the sentiments expressed.

Finally – some inspiration for teachers who are bored beyond measure with teaching ‘Othello’ for the umpteenth time: you will find motivation and inspiration in the article ‘Shakespeare for teens’.

Remember to:

  • Focus on the story and let the plot grab the learners
  • Make it fun and interactive
  • Split the play into manageable sections
  • Personalise it, as the characters are believable and the plots are still relevant today.

Let me hear your thoughts on this issue.
MacMo

Categories: Macrat Musings

03
January
2014

Resolve to avoid burn-out

Happy New Year to you! Macrat Publishing wishes you a fulfilling and productive year.

The beginning of the year is a good time for making decisions to do things differently – to get rid of bad habits and start doing things that benefit us. What about making a New Year’s resolution to avoid burn-out this year?

Categories: Macrat Musings

24
November
2013

Happy Holidays

We wish all our Macrat friends and supporters a very happy and restful holiday period. Herewith some suggestions for reading about implementing technology and rethinking teaching and learning – for the relaxing weeks ahead.

Categories: Macrat Musings

08
November
2013

Stress resilience: How to make stress your friend

As a teacher, I always used to think that teaching was the second-most stressful occupation next to air traffic controlling, but apparently it doesn’t even appear on the list of top-10 stressful jobs in the world. (Try googling it and you will see for yourself.)

Categories: Macrat Musings

05
November
2013

Wise words to get you through the rest of the term.

Feeling drained and struggling to keep all the balls in the air? This is such a stressful time of the year with the build up to the end of term and the holiday period that follows; we often feel as though we are being pushed beyond our endurance. Many people end up wondering ‘What’s it all about?’

Categories: Macrat Musings

29
October
2013

Language important for pupils: Motshekga

“Research shows that children are likely to achieve higher levels of literacy when using a home language in school, in our case, African languages like IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Setswana and others,” said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Tuesday in a speech prepared for delivery at the 10th international language and development conference in Cape Town.

http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2013/10/15/language-important-for-pupils-motshekga

Categories: Macrat Musings

22
October
2013

JOIN OUR BLOG DISCUSSIONS

Our Macrat blog will now be featuring regular postings about classroom trends and the impact of technology on these, keeping you up to date with theory in practice, as well as some links to great websites and lesson ideas to go with them. To make the most of it, we’d love you to share your ideas by leaving comments – opening up a discussion based on your own experiences, offering other links to share, and allowing for an exchange of ideas that enhances learning for all. Don't miss our posting - subscribe to the RSS Feed on the blog, and we look forward to some great discussion and learning! Alternatively, subscribe to our newsletter and you will receive details of the most recent blogs.

Categories: Macrat Musings

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