Shakespeare Knew Unrest
Peggy O’Brian, director of education, of the Folger, recently queried how former Folgerians were doing. Seeing the Folger is neighbors with many prominent Washington DC power sources, such as the Supreme Court, her question holds some resonance of consideration.
I paused and thought. How are we doing? The “we” for me being the school environment because school is a large part of my life and serves as a reflection of how the world out there is affecting the lives of present and future citizens. I will say this: there is unrest.
Here is my partial response to Peggy’s question:
We are feeling the bite of unrest. Students are forming clubs that reflect their need to express their views. We have a club that celebrates the 50.5%, formed by young women (and young men). Another club is the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, young men who want to explore what it means to be a male in today’s society. We also have Interact and Key Club, which reaches out with fundraisers to meet the needs of the community. The administration has a mentor class of student peers who lead discussion groups.
Class discussion topics for my AP Language class bring forth interests such as “fake news,” and how women are portrayed in the media. Students exchange ideas and debate views. We share. I remind them their voices can be heard. They march. They write letters and articles for the school paper. They are involved. I am fortunate to be part of their conscious desire to be the change they want to see in the world.
And in all this, I keep teaching Shakespeare. He saw injustice, corruption, love, hate, death, prejudice and he put pen to paper, and words became actions upon the stage. Students see that 400 years later we still have the same issues, even if they are expressed in a different manner at times. My students see that one man continues to have a large influence upon the world. Shakespeare truly is a man for all time.
Shakespeare is one way I illustrate how times of unrest are reflected through the arts. And it’s frightening to learn that funding for the arts is being threatened.
I’m hoping our voices will be heard up on the Capitol’s hill that the arts are important and the people want them to remain a vibrant voice.
We especially need our voices to be heard in times of unrest.