Contemplating Macbeth and Othello

The last couple of days have been about getting my head around how I’m going to teach Macbeth, the play not the person, via the virtual world that is school during the apocalypse.

The kind of kids I teach find Shakespeare a struggle at the best of times. He talks old fashioned, they add a swear word being with F and ending in ING to the middle of his name; and despite the fact we’ve been teaching his works since year 7, there’s a disconnect between what was added to their understanding last year and what we’re doing this year.

Unfortunately, now more than ever, left field thinking is needed. Normally I’d do a brief plot and character summary, check we remember what thee, thou, thine and hither, thither, yonder and whence mean and watch the film (Patrick Stewart version as I cannot cope with a naked Keith Chegwin). This year I can’t do that. I can’t stop and answer questions, translate bits and point out key words or actors reactions to get them to see what Shakespeare means. So it made me pause and go back to the drawing board. I have to take a step back and start a bit differently.

I needed a way in, and after a thunk (a chunk of thought) I found it Hence my title.

Year 10s first session therefore will be Similarities and differences in types of character, similar plot devices and themes.

Doing this made it simpler, for me at least, to start the process: and meant, though I did have to do some thinking first that this might now be a way forward. The two plays are tremendously similar, though some things are obviously reversed the best friend dynamic for a start. There’s a husband and wife, and jealousy and ambition, and war and witchcraft.

And suddenly lo and behold, there I am, ticking the whole new Government/Ofsted focus of interleaving learning (don’t!)

Yo girl, get me!!

Then came the question. How the hell do I do this?In the absence of any kind of face to face learning, via Zoom or whatever (we’ve not had the go ahead for that) I’ve been getting my head around some voice over software. Easy to use, once you know-how, and with tech support provided by one my oldest friends who teaches media and is wizzo prang with these kinds of thing.

So poor year 10, they haven’t escaped me burbling my way through these Similarities and differences and the lesson on who does what. But I’m sorry, I need to explain it in a way they hear not a way they read. Because some of them finding reading modern tough.

Besides, they can pause me, rewind and take it at their own pace. 🤣

The end result is very rough around the edges. I haven’t learned yet how to edit, I thin I need to be in studio mode. But I’m a teacher and a writer, not a film producer. And just like my lessons aren’t perfect, neither will this be. But it is my best.

And as my Nana was wont to say, that’s all you can ever do…