Crimes against Shakespeare 003

BH exam mistakes

or simply Much Ado About Nothing … ?

students were in tears after the exam

A multiple choice question for the adults.  Or for my students, who sat their Shakespeare exam on Monday just gone.  You sit an exam where you have a choice of two questions.  One question appears to make no sense. Do you:

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The Long Goodbye …

BH long goodbye

If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.  (Brutus, Julius Caesar:  Act V, scene I)

This morning, at 9am, my Y11 students sit their first GCSE English exam – 1 hour, 45 minutes on The Tempest and Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four … and so begins the ‘long goodbye’ …

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Beat the Teacher (Part 2)

BH memory tricks

Our Y11 (15/16 year old) students have the first of their English Literature GCSE exams on Monday

This is the last year, at my school, when we will (effectively) have autonomy over the texts we teach.  Next year, we will only offer Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet at GCSE.  It sounds like a retrograde move, but what it does ensure – I suppose – is that we have teachers, multiple, who can deliver the texts, both in the classroom and – importantly, considering I am in school today (Sunday) – in revision sessions.  I am largely in school today because I’m the only one who can do The Tempestnobody’s fault but mine, as Led Zeppelin might say.

The AQA specification offers the following texts:

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A plague on both your houses …

BH The Black Death 2‘When ignorant men are overwhelmed by forces totally beyond their control and their understanding it is inevitable that they will search for some explanation within their grasp.  When they are frightened and badly hurt then they will seek someone on whom they can be revenged. […]  What was needed, therefore, was a suitable target for the indignation of the people, preferably a minority group, easily identifiable, already unpopular, widely scattered and lacking any powerful protector.’

Philip Ziegler, The Black Death, (The Folio Society, London: 1997)  Cover image:  Francis Mosley

The plague was too immediate, too visceral, for Shakespeare to include more than a passing reference to it in his plays.  In Romeo and Juliet it’s a factor in the tragedy, but at a safe distance.

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#MYSHX400 (Happy Birthday, Will)

BH MySHX400-OG

So.  I owe the inspiration for this post – wanting to do something to celebrate the birthday – to ohforamuseofire, who herself got the questions from Folger Shakespeare Library project.  I wonder how, if at all, my answers might change over the next few years, as the PonyTail Shakespeare project progresses …

What does Shakespeare mean to you?

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PTS 03/014: Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable …

BH Blanche Dubois
“Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.  It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.”  (BLANCHE:  A Streetcar Named Desire (scene 10), Tennessee Williams)

Henry VI part III: Act I

So …

Part III begins, as Part II ended, with Warwick, perhaps reinforcing his role as ‘kingmaker’, and with the suspicion – to be dealt with later, maybe – that Henry is a ‘Jonah’ on the battlefield.  Whoever’s side he appears on (note I don’t say ‘fights’ on) he seems to suck the fighting spirit out of the army like a Dementor whose puppy has just been killed in a hit-and-run accident …

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