Monday, April 6, 2009

Shakespeare, Teens, and the East

This is a picture of Philip, as taken by Philip:

This is a picture of me, as taken by Philip:

This is a picture of the guy that is causing problems:

It began yesterday when we were cleaning his room "together" which meant I gathered glackis (a term my daughter uses to describe the plates with spoons or forks stuck to them)while he sat on his bed texting his friends. I came across an answer sheet on Romeo and Juliet. The question was:

Why, in your opinion, does Romeo kill Tybalt? Philip's response?

Because he was bipolar.

Philip went on to explain that he acted just like his friend, R., before she was diagnosed bipolar and sent to the alternative school.

Philip has really struggled with Shakespeare. Let me rephrase that: I have struggled with Philip sliding under the table while I tried to explain metaphor and theme to him in the play's context.

A long time ago, when I was 22, I stood in front of a ninth grade class and somehow got the play across to them. I do remember wondering whether or not the amount of time it took to get a little bit of Shakespeare through to fourteen year olds was worth it or not. I still wonder the same thing, but I was determined that Philip get something out of this experience.

"Let's go to the kitchen table," I said.


The kitchen table means homework, so for twenty minutes (and the promise of letting him skip the egg hunt with his little sister's friends) we talked about Shakespeare.
I explained metaphor, and hyperbole. He nodded with the glazed over look I get when my husband explains how he is going to change the sprockets on his bike.

"K, Philip, listen to this line. "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the..."

He looked at me. He yawned.

"He thinks Juliet is beautiful and luminous, all he has been yearning for."

Philip nods. I think maybe there was a breakthrough. "Remember about metaphors?"


"Ok, so 'It is the east, and Juliet is the..."

His eyes light up. He's getting it!

"Ok, Philip, 'It is the east, and Juliet is the..."

"West. Juliet is the west, right?"


Christy Raedeke said...

He's a Deductive Logician! Love it! He may not like Shakespeare but he might dig some Aristotle. I'll bet he scores really high on IQ tests.

My favorite part is that you bargained away the egg hunt for that conversation...

Anne Spollen said...

He does get decent grades, and based on the effort he puts into school, luck has to be involved. He's really only interested in music right now -- and his friends.

And the egg hunt -- luckily Emma had a friend over and they got so caught up in it, it was a seamless negotiation.

Katie said...

Dangit! I just posted a long comment and it somehow erased???

Love Philip stories :-)

Anne Spollen said...

I hate when that happens, Katie.

Yeah, Philip keeps us all pretty amused : )

Nora MacFarlane said...


Mary Witzl said...

Once again, this is great, and very familiar. I sat with our kid, supporting her through Macbeth and Lord of the Flies, so I do know how this feels. I like the part about letting Philip off the Easter egg thing too. Raising teens is all about plea bargaining.

And it's eerie: I very nearly blogged just now about my class's opinions of Slumdog Millionaire and how The Bard was there for them in their hour of need.

Nora MacFarlane said...

Ann - I nominated you for an award on my blog. Love your blog!

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