Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shakespeare & Me -- An Amicable Separation

No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am,
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.
They say sing while you slave and I just get bored.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

-- Bob Dylan

My 32 year relationship with Shakespeare class has far surpassed the average length of a marriage in this country. So without apology, he and I embark on a trial separation. Because some of our children (former students) are startled, I'll offer a few words of explanation. Divorceguide.com has helped me sort out the reasons:

I don't think I ever cheated my students, but this year I cheated on the Bard. I had the sense in class that I was performing. All modesty aside, these were good performances, but I could almost see myself teaching as I taught (not good). Though I continually vary the plays, after teaching some 60-70 sections of the class some of the genuine excitement of sharing is gone. It's not Shakespeare, it's. . . .

I'll admit it. I am tired of teaching literary papers and truly sick of reading them. I'm not proud of this, but it's hard work, and I have paid my dues. It's better to adjust than to simply become altogether bitter and cynical.

Commitment problems
Well , as I cataloged in Making Headway, I have been busy-busy with technology and connective learning. Throwing over the Bard for such a thing has penalized me among our mutual friends (see Shell Shock). And I admit to losing focus on day to day teaching but only because I have been more focused on learning. (And as the world "flattens", won't the better learners be better teachers?).

Change in priorities
I love all my courses, but right now I am fixated on revving up my AP American Government & Politics course with vlogging and a digital anthology. I needed to trim my preps to give this proper focus.

I'll be going to see Macbeth at Stratford in a couple of weeks, and I will still be using that play in Lit into Film. So William and I are still friends. The course will be in great hands with Mike G. And who knows, I might find my way back to Shakespeare class some day. But when I've separated from other great loves in my life like coaching basketball and teaching Dickens, I never went back.

I need this kind of change as a teacher. I'm not remotely burned out-- and after 34 years, I still don't complain when September rolls around. So farewell, Shakespeare. It's been great.

"Change" Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of melikirk2001

1 comment:

Ann Lusch said...

It HAS been great! I know that you have helped countless students appreciate Shakespeare. But I support your decision for all of the above reasons! Teachers do need change, and you have a lot of other directions to go in now. If you are not complaining when September rolls around, that says a lot. So, yes, keep it that way.

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