"Teaching Shakespeare Through Exercises on Acting and on the Basic Emotions"
While teaching at a private liberal arts college near Berkeley, I obtained special approval one semester to teach an experimental course on Shakespeare.
This class differed from the usual discussion class in two main ways.
Otherwise, many classes were spent in familiar discussion format, supplemented by an occasional lecture. I met with 28 upperclassmen, twice a week, 90 minutes each time, for a 12-week semester. During this time, we spent
Students wrote extensive journals, which I frequently read. There were
no exams or formal papers.
The experimental elements, however, changed the tone of the class so much that students found it sometimes disorienting, sometimes exhilarating, but, I think, seldom dull. Final evaluations indicate that I reached at least as many students with this approach as in the previous semester's regular discussion course.
Sadly, I lost (to my knowledge) two outstanding students--who simply were not able to function in the class. One of those two, a young woman who had mastered an academic approach to literature, complained that she was disoriented by this approach and dropped the class. For a first effort at teaching in a new way, though, I consider this class successful enough to report, in the hope that other teachers of Shakespeare will find some of these approaches worth trying out.