Usually school-mandated reading carries the stench of death and essay questions along with it, but not so in my APEnglish class. I genuinely have never enjoyed Shakespeare as I have while reading Hamlet with my friends. While we aren't yet finished with the book, I can definitely tell you some of the things that are making it so thoroughly tolerable:
1. We're finding ways to make it fun.
The sight of a student, hunched over their desk, eyes glazed over, and desperately trying to hang on to the garbled Middle English for dear life, is a common one throughout our school district's mandatory Shakespeare-a-year English program. While by the time you've reached Senior year, like I have, you've managed to translate the stories a little bit, most people still have at least a little problem sorted through the "thee"s and "thou"s, and even then, the story itself is rife with deep meaning and thought, which may be hard to follow. My friends and I entertain ourselves, and avoid doing APChemistry homework, by doing some serious doodling (example provided above, of what resulted when my friend Catherine questioned Queen Gertrude's ability to recount the exact events of Ophelia's death, but hadn't attempted to save her). Others for this past Shakespeare section have included "Anime Dead King Hamlet" as well as "Cast of Hamlet as Animals".
2. Our teacher embraces media portrayal.
I swear, half of our class would be lost in the wandering, word-y world of Hamlet if it weren't for Kenneth Branagh. His movie version provides not only entertainment, but also serves as a sort of plotline MapQuest for those in our class struggling to follow the story, even if his is transposed into a later time period. Our teacher, Mr. C, understands that some students learn visually, and simply seeing actors portray the characters on screen may help them better comprehend the play, versus just reading it.
3. Our teacher also doesn't crowd us with information, but lets us sort it out peice by piece.
Hamlet is a complex play, considered by many to be one of the best in the English language. That may be a hint as to why an overload of assignments and essays and worksheets doesn't serve much use to the knowledge-hungry: you're forcefeeding what we'd willingly eat. Don't stuff us. Mr. C. only assigns one worksheet every one-to-two chapters to make sure we're following along, and gives short "reading check" quizzes during class every few days to review. While the student is trying to sift through the difficult nature of the story, don't throw a giant boulder of an essay in for them as well.
So, that is my brief post on why our Shakespeare study this year is going so well.
Also, if you just so happen to be reading Hamlet as well, check out this. You won't regret you did. :)