Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Hobart Shakespeareans

Below, a link to a wonderful page about the documentary The Hobart Shakespeareans, which recently aired on the PBS series P.O.V. The Hobart Shakespeareans are the fifth-grade students of Rafe Esquith, a teacher at Hobart Boulevard Elementary, an "inner-city" school in Los Angeles. Each year Esquith's students (from disadvantaged backgrounds, many from families of recent immigrants) study and perform one of Shakespeare's plays, in its entirety. The students do a lot of other reading too (check out their recommended reading).

The story of the Hobart Shakespeareans and their teacher is a wonderful example of what becomes possible when one imagines learning as a genuine possibility. In Esquith's classroom, Hamlet isn't something to be feared, something to be "supplemented" with SparkNotes and movies or presented in simplified language. It's the real thing, to be approached with reverent attention. I especially like what fifth-grader Sol Ah says: "Even if the movies they make are good, they won't be as good as the book."

LINK: The Hobart Shakespeareans

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