hamlet, the movie, so many versions
Okay. So. Here's what I've been doing in class: watching Hamlet. I think I may have spent more weeks on Hamlet than anything else we've done. Maybe. But I really wanted them to get the feel of how many different ways a production of a Shakespearean play can be done. First, of course, we all read the play--I wanted their evaluations of the productions to be based on the actual text of the play, not necessarily whether or not they liked it. Of course, personal opinion comes into play, but first and foremost, I wanted them to judge the productions on whether they were true to the spirit of the play or not. We watched the Olivier version, the John Guilgud/Derrick Jacoby version, the Nicol Williamson version (with Sir Anthony Hopkins as Claudius), the Mel Gibson/Zefferelli version, and the Kenneth Branagh version. Okay, so we didn't watch the entirety fo them all or we'd still be watching films! But we did watch major scenes from them all--more scenes from some than others. I was really pleased with the way my students dealt with the different productions. We had several very thoughtful discussions about the differences between each, and the respective merits and weaknesses of each. I have to say (proabably b/c of my carefully lowered expectations of teenagers) I was surprised at how much they enjoyed/appreciated the Olivier version. I guess I thought they'd be too jaded. I should have expected better since they really liked the Errol Flynn Robin Hood. Ah well. So now they are busily writing critical analyses: not only analysing the play itself, but also 2-3 of the productions. This ought to be interesting. Of course, I always assign these things because I know they are really great for my kids to do, but then I realize--I have to notate/grade them. Sigh. Well, I only have a few students, so it isn't too bad. I'm actually looking forward to reading them. My frustrating student has actually had some thought driven responses to the play/films. I only got a "if you love Jeesahs" response once or twice. (by the way, the creative pronunciation spelling is courtesy of sister who adores calling the superficial/shallow Jesus ideas/pictures "Jeesahs.") Anyway. My other project--not that all my students aren't all projects in their own way--but my other major project this year has been "bottom-line" student. I'm sure I'll hear about this when he reads this, but too bad. This student is very smart and usually has something unique to add to the discussions, but has two problems. The first is actually getting to the bottom line. He's getting much better at it. Now he usually gets right to the point without trekking around the bushes first. His other problem, which I still see him copping out to every once-in-a-while is the desire to make sure the answer is right before he says it. He is getting much better at risking it, I have to say. I've said all of this to say--no matter how frustrating the kids can be, it is really heartening to watch them and realize that they are growing through their learning, not just adding a bunch of new facts to their brain-files.
On a different note--in World Lit we've been plowing through Eastern philosophy and poetry with The Inferno in between. The kdis picked up on a lot of the allegory and the links between sins and punishments in The Inferno. It was good to see. Wednesday, after we talked about
"...because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and which is not vile can be done to him. therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted."
I know that isn't exactly orthodox, but it is beautiful. and I wonder that we can't see or understand everything that is God's revealing himself to individuals. The passion of Rumi humbles me because I don't always seek to be that passionate with my Lover. At any rate, this is one of the reasons I love teaching: not only opening the eyes of my students to broader horizons, but having my own enlarged.