Current/Recent Reading List

14 November 2008

Forgive Me Father, I Have Sinned.

I did the unthinkable, the unmentionable this week: I quit on Shakespeare!

Well, sort of. You see, I've been doing The Tempest with my sophomores the last couple of years, to nice (if not resounding) success. No worries - I'm still doing it this semester. However, earlier this year, when putting together the final reading list for my honors class, I gave the smartie-pantses a vote on one reading. We could invest about $2.00 a piece and buy enough additional copies of Cyrano De Bergerac to do that, or add Othello to the list, with no need for a purchase to be made. The cheap-o's voted Othello, but frankly I was excited about this since it meant being able to do two Shakespeare's in a semester.

Well, I had forgotten that Othello was a much more difficult play, with much more dense and intricate language, and scenes that are long and less easily-digestable. Plus, we are at that point in the semester where kids' motivations are waning, and laziness has settled in like an epidemic. Things were not going well at all with the noble Moor, so after we slugged through Act III, I decided to pull the plug.

If it was just a matter of their laziness, I wouldn't have done it, but I was getting no interest or traction at all, except from about three exceptionally bright girls. A senior honors class would have been able to handle Othello better perhaps, but I'm not going to try it with sophomores again. Given the time left in the semester, and that I want to get in The Tempest and another novel, I made the tactical decision to withdraw from this battle in order to win the war.

And, I warned them, it will be war next week with The Tempest, a play even my standard English classes get through without scrapes. It's just that the honors crew will be responsible for a whole lot more... uh... enrichment activities to do.

Still, there is the guilt of letting ole Willie down, and at least one of the girls who was actually enjoying the play is angry because we quit. Oh, "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame!"

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