Let’s get started…
Do you see what I did there? I’m in lesson planning mode at the moment. I don’t know if students ever thinks about the effort that goes into created lessons when they’re at school (I know I didn’t). This time of year, post exams, is a chance for teachers to look at old schemes of work and consider how they could be changed, improved, re-vitalised.
I’ve been helping to create the new scheme of work for The Merchant of Venice and I came across this quote from from the title page of the first quarto.
‘The most excellent historie of the merchant of Venice. With the extreame crueltie of
Shylocke the Jewe towards the sayd merchant, in cutting a just pound of his flesh: and
the obtayning of Portia by the choyse of three chests.’
This makes me think several things.
- The British Library website is an amazing resource. If anyone is ever looking to research context or just for something interesting to read I would highly recommend a browse.
- Look at how spelling has changed. The use of the ‘y’ is something I find interesting, which makes me think about the Great Vowel Shift, which, after I read this http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150605-your-language-is-sinful, I remember is earlier than Shakespeare.
- That reminded me of something I read about the American accent being closer to the Shakespearian accent and I found this http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180207-how-americans-preserved-british-english well worth a read and this really cool video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPlpphT7n9s. Both are worth a look. (This is just to illustrate the various English tangents I will wander off on given a chance.
Have our ideas and prejudices really changed that much since Shakespeare’s day?
Some of you may remember the furor some weeks ago around anti-sematism and the Labour party; many of us watched the news reports from the Nazi march in Charlottesville and the Presidents subsequent comments about ‘good people on both sides’, with horror. Here is my question, why are we still fighting about the same things today that we were fighting about over 500 years ago?
If nothing else this has shown me that the ideas and values we see in Shakespeare’s plays are still relevant to us today.
A sobering thought, but one that motivates me to continue with my lesson planning.