Romeo and Juliet and Rebels in the Classroom

I taught Romeo and Juliet while student teaching, about a decade or two after Shakespeare produced the play at The Globe Theatre.  I still remember the reviews: “Thy best performance ever!”  – The London Times; “Thine drama shall have freshmen enduring it for centuries!” – The Evening Bard.

Needless to say, I kind of know the story and sometimes forget that some of the students do not know any of it.  However, today, one young lady befuddled me.   She has been physically present everyday we were reading and listening to a production of the play.  She was writing down notes and answers to guided reading questions as we discussed what was going on.  However, she proved the point that sometimes people just write without thinking.  They listen without being an active part of the conversation.  They forget that they have two ears and only one mouth, and they should place the importance on the listening.  I did not need the educational buzz tool of the year – The Exit Ticket – to tell me there was a problem.  If you have a basic remembrance of the story, you can see for yourself:

Dana: Why is Juliet in the Capulet tomb?  How did she get there?

Me: In Act 4 she took a magic potion to pretend to be dead.

Dana:  Why?

Me: To avoid marrying Paris.

Dana: I thought she wanted to marry Romeo.

Me: She did marry Romeo.

Dana:  She did!?  When?  Nobody told me!  I hate listening to things being read to me, like we did yesterday.

Me: Me, too.  I would have reread the material last night and answered the guided reading questions then.

Dana: Why would you do that?

Me: Because the questions were due today.

Dana: They were? Well, nobody told me.

The Reconciliation of the Montagues and Capule...

The Reconciliation of the Montagues and Capulets Watercolor, approximately 15.5 x 20 inches. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thus, the blame game begins.  I want to scream.  Instead, I laugh inside my head and calmly ask, “When is your study hall?  Come in on Friday, and I can help you.”

She is one of my rebels I wrote about yesterday.  She does try to do her work, but at the first problem she blames something or someone else.  Tomorrow, I will show her some websites that offer summaries and give her an old study guide that offers additional information.  I am not sure she will take it upon herself to do the work this second time around.

Perhaps she can watch this attached related article:



Filed under Education, Goals, Humor, Measuring Student Success

2 responses to “Romeo and Juliet and Rebels in the Classroom

  1. It seems that being a teacher provides a lot of material for a stand up comedian.

    I once saw a production of “A Midsummer night’s dream” by the Sydney Theatre Company. It was a modern treatment set in a modern day night club with bouncers and clubbers and even a drag queen! It was the first time that I discovered just how funny Shakespeare truly is.

    My point is that you might see if there is a modern Romeo and Juliet (perhaps the movie with De Caprio) that connects with your target audience more effectively. Until I saw the modern production I mentioned I didn’t connect with Shakespeare (an embarrassing admition there) and as a result I have read his works and seen more productions. I now get that he is more than a play-write. He is also a great commentator on the human condition.

  2. Funny that you mention the modern movie. I use to show it, and kids enjoyed it. Last year, I showed the opening fight scene of it and the opening fight scene of the 1968 Franco Zephafelli version. The kids liked the 1968 one better! And apparently Romeo looks like Zach Effron from Disney’s High School Musical, so the girls were happy… until I told them the actor is now about the age of their grandfather.

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