Independent Teacher, the official magazine of the National Association of Independent Schools, published an article about Germantown Academy Upper School English Chair Becca Burnett's "Shakespeare in Performance" class. READ the entire article on NAIS.org.
"Like many of my colleagues across the country, I have spent this summer studying best practices for teaching in an online or blended environment. The more I learn, the more I realize that good online learning is built on the same principles as good in-person learning; the medium and methods might be different, but the philosophy remains the same. Good classes—whether virtual or in-person—are student-centered and student-driven. They enable students to discover, uncover, build, and create. In other words, good classes let students play.
"Although modern students see Shakespeare as a crusty relic of the traditional canon, he is perfectly suited to a playful 21st century classroom. And yet we rarely give students a chance to play with Shakespeare. In fact, we often don’t let our students experience Shakespeare for themselves—we assume he is hard, and we carry students on our backs through that hardship, interpreting difficult passages for them and encouraging them, by our approach, to think that they cannot navigate his language without the aid of study supports. Although modern best practices suggest that learning should be active and student-driven, when it comes to teaching older texts, we often revert to older methods of teaching. We become the “sage on the stage” and allow our students to passively absorb or disengage. No wonder these texts feel inaccessible to today’s learners—they aren’t being taught in the way today’s students learn.
"What if, instead, we reimagined Shakespeare? What if we put the kids in charge, making space for them to discover, uncover, build, and create? What if we let them play?"