Beginning Shakespeare 4-11
Routledge – 2012 – 128 pages
'This book is clear, approachable, and true. The elegant simplicity of its good guidance is the product of years of practical experience in the classroom. I wholeheartedly commend it to primary school teachers everywhere.'
Michael Boyd, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company
Shakespeare’s plays are widely regarded as the greatest inheritance in English literature and recent years have seen a growing interest in introducing them to children in their primary schools. In this book, the authors bring a blend of clear thinking, playful and inventive practice and straightforward practical advice to bear on teaching Shakespeare in the primary school.
Children who encounter Shakespeare early have the opportunity to become comfortable with the plays, their stories, characters and settings, long before they might become intimidated by their associations with exclusivity and ‘high’ culture. They are also given the chance to become familiar with and absorb his powerful and complex language at a stage when they are constantly encountering new vocabulary. To do this most effectively demands a dynamic pedagogy, one which recognises that the plays are best explored and understood through active, physical engagement.
Beginning Shakespeare 4-11 offers a sound rationale for teaching Shakespeare in primary schools and shows how to engage children with Shakespeare through story, through the very best of early years practice, and through his rich and sensual language. It also illustrates how engagement with the plays and their language can have a dramatic impact on children’s writing. And because plays are for performing, there is helpful and practical advice on how to develop the work and share it with the whole school, parents and the wider community.
This accessible and comprehensive guide is ideal for teacher trainees and practising primary teachers everywhere.
'Beginning Shakespeare makes a passionate case for including Shakespeare in the primary school curriculum and backs up its arguments with a rich bank of activities and lesson sequences. Head of Education Partnerships at the RSC Miles Tandy and Professor of Drama at Warwick University Joe Winston have very clearly ‘road-tested’ their ideas and I am sure that those working in schools will find this book a useful addition to their professional library. At the same time any trainee teacher will find the arguments here thought-provoking and challenging as they consider the place of ‘classic texts’ and drama in the 21st century classroom…Winston and Tandy, in Beginning Shakespeare, give a very sound rationale and resource base for schools to make a start in pursuing their ambitious targets.' David Gibbons, NATE Primary Committee
'The authors have gone beyond such standard fare as A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth (evergreen favourites in primary schools), and include work on less familiar and perhaps more challenging plays such as Troilus and Cressida, King Lear and Hamlet. In each case, they support children's moral, social and cultural development, presenting pertinent and relevant issues for them to consider such as the terrible cost of war in Henry V or what it feels like to be bullied like Malvolio in Twelfth Night. The authors are skilled at seeing the links to the personal and social development of pupils, which is a key aim of primary practice.' Georghia Ellinas, Around the Globe, Issue 54, 2013
Foreword by Fiona Shaw; Introduction; 1. Beginning Shakespeare with Games; 2. Beginning Shakespeare with his Stories; 3. Beginning Shakespeare in the Early Years; 4. Beginning with Shakespeare’s Text; 5. How Shakespeare can Inspire Children’s Writing; 6. Shakespeare, Performance and the Primary School; 7. Shakespeare, Ambition and Achievement; Appendix: the Story of Prospero’s Lost Dukedom; Suggestions for further reading
Joe Winston is Professor of Drama and Arts Education at the University of Warwick and has served as co-editor of Research in Drama Education since 2005.
Miles Tandy is Head of Education Partnerships at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has worked previously as a teacher, school leader and local authority adviser.