In “A Spirit of Youth in Every Thing: Shakespeare in Early Elementary Education”, author/teaching artist Erin Gilbreth asks the question, “How do we create a generation that is able to learn what they need to learn in order to be successful academically, but also has the wisdom to know when it is appropriate to put down their screens and be present: expressing empathy and a desire to be in community with their peers?” An early introduction to Shakespeare curriculum and drama play can set the stage for successful academic, emotional and social development in children, ages five to nine. The benefits of studying Shakespearean literature need not wait until a student is in their teens. Ms. Gilbreth addresses the average academic, emotional and social expectations that the New York Board of Education currently desires from children by the time they reach the end of third grade; Then, she suggests “on your feet” Shakespearean drama activities that correspond to vocabulary building, mathematic skills, public speaking skills and critical thinking goals that teachers are already working toward with their students. The objective is to accompany current school curriculum and bolster it from a different angle by using visceral drama play to foster a love of beauty and compassion for others while still maintaining a reverence for academic excellence.
(“a spirit of youth in every thing” is borrowed from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98)
Obviously, I'm writing to teachers and school administrators. Even though I don't normally classify Shakespeare as literature because I like it on it's feet -- and that makes 'em plays -- I feel like I have to phrase what I'm doing as Drama Play with Shakespearean Literature in order to appeal to the clout that Shakespeare has with academics. I'll let the fun "play" aspect speak for itself.
In case you are curious about the topics and research that my colleagues are taking on, here's a list:
- Teacher Demographics in Relation to Job Satisfaction
- Benefits of Outward Bound Experiences for Children
- Pursuit of Double Period for High School English Classes
- Overpopulation of Deer on Long Island
- Changing Role of the Family Pet
- Art and Children with Special Needs
- Technology in Secondary Math Education
- Uses and Abuses of Social Media
- Drugs in Professional Cycling
- Educational Curriculum for Bullying
- Detox Plan for Personal Devices
- Motivating At-Risk Students
- Academic Effects of Divorce on Young Children
- Concussion Injuries and Prevention in Youth Football Leagues
As you can see, we have a pretty wide smattering of topics. I am finding a bond with the woman who is writing in favor of double period English classes because she is an English teacher that loves Shakespeare and "gets" why I am passionate about my topic. I am also drawn to the cycling and concussion conversations in our online forum because they just seem really interesting to me.
So....I have my topic and audience. Now, research! I know I have to cover Common Core, so I've started down that rabbit hole. It seems futile, because Common Core standards may not be with us in New York five years from now, but I have to address them because they are with us right now. I'm not loving that -- only because it feels like busy work to write a lot about something that may get thrown out in a few years' time. I'm trying to remind myself that I need a standard by which to hold up my own work, so - voila - Common Core provides that. Besides, I am discovering that a lot of states that initially adopted Common Core but then abandoned it have decided to retain a lot of the benchmarks per age group. That's really what I am looking at, anyway.
Finn had a horrific cold this week. The past three nights, I have been up with him from 1am - 4am, when his phlegmy cough is at its worst. I am super tired and would love to be spending more of his afternoon nap time working on my project, but by the time 1pm rolls around, I'm in need of a nap, too! I'm not feeling like I'm as far along as I'd like to be this week...and it's only week two!