Can you overdose on Shakespeare?

BH will kempe
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t how we teachers spend our time once the exams are over …

‘Give me excess of it, that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken and so die.’

(DUKE ORSINO:  Twelfth Night, I.i.2-3)

So, as we enter the final stretch, you’d think that we teachers would be winding down, right?  Imitating Will Kemp in his warm up for his ‘Nine Days’ Wonder‘, by cavorting up and down the corridors of the English block in carefree abandon, greeting fellow English teachers with a hearty ‘hey, nonny nonny!‘ as we pass their empty classrooms?

Not a bit of it, sadly.  Whilst our exam classes have donned their gladrags and tottered off into the distance on their improbable high heels (and that’s just the boys, obviously), we’re left with end-of-year assessments for everyone else, which naturally have to be turned around pretty damn quickly.

To ensure consistency of marking, we have a policy at school of re-distributing the workload so that instead of marking your own classes, each teacher marks the work of multiple classes who have sat the same assessment.  In my current role, it falls to me to allocate the marking.  I can’t help but feel I’ve made a mistake this year …

Because I’m sitting here on Saturday morning with 5 classes’ worth of Year 9 Shakespeare assessments to mark:

  • two classes of Richard III (an extract from his opening soliloquy);
  • two classes of Hamlet (Claudius‘ ‘O my offence is rank’ soliloquy); and
  • one class of Macbeth (the ‘unsex me here’ speech)

How will I, how CAN I keep sane?

Here’s my plan:

1 – keep a list of all the different spellings of Shakespeare, despite his name being on the question paper;

2 – have my Golden Dogberries page open and ready to receive any absolute howlers and/or ‘Crimes against Shakespeare’

3 – resolutely avoid listening to Shakespeare (which is what I would normally do during a weekend’s marking).  In fact, I’m going to kick off with Matter, by Iain M Banks, and hope that a healthy dose of SF will keep me sane.

Quotation taken, as ever, from the Arden Third Edition.

Author: Boar's Head, Eastcheap

Hyperactive English Teacher and Tutor; Shakespeare-obsessed 'Villainous abominable misleader of youth'; 'old white-bearded Satan'; Friend of the Orangutan

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