When my 7th and 8th grade students first hear that we’re going to read Shakespeare, many slouch in their chairs, groan, gag, and roll their eyes. But each time we open A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, they find out how accessible and enjoyable the Bard can be, and I’m reminded of five reasons I love reading Shakespeare with my middle school students.
I once read somewhere that Plato said we would not be ready to learn until we were about fifty because that is about the age in which we realize we do not know anything. As much as those in education--public school, private school, home school, community college, and universities--may discuss having a teachable spirit, I have found that those are sometimes the very places in which it is the riskiest to admit that you do not know.
One of the qualities I’ve grown to love about my logic level** students is the quirky combination of playful innocence and sporadic insight. While the fluctuating maturity levels can prove frustrating, they also indicate a beautiful transition.
I realized that I could have helped them pick the story apart, but I really didn’t want to overanalyze and so kill the story. So I began to ask myself: Why read nonsense literature? What’s the place of nonsense in the life of a Christian?
The next day, I had my students write journal entries (funny or personal—their choice) based on the following prompt: I just wish (insert a person here) would understand…
For me, childhood outdoor memories include climbing a dogwood tree and flinching when I felt a caterpillar crawl across my hand, running barefoot through the hay field that was still wet and warm with dew and humidity, and picking and eating June apples with a little red headed girl from across the street. Most summer and autumn days we pretended we were characters from whatever book we were reading, spinning stories as we explored our backyards. We weren’t rushed, and we were free to explore and create out of enjoyment.
I remember sitting in my dad’s lap while he read this little book called The Little Taxi that Hurried. No one can read that book like my dad. One of these differences has to do with sound effects. Only Dad can make that taxi honk properly. Thankfully, I have five younger brothers and a sister, so dad hasn’t stopped reading The Little Taxi that Hurried. In fact, everyone crowds in the living room when he reads to the younger kids.
I thought I would provide a list of books that have been helpful to me as I continue on my journey in humane learning.
This post was previously written for and published by Cornerstone Academy in the Fall of 2015.