Stand and Unfold Yourself. Report on the Shakespeare & Co. Summer Shakespeare Program
Seidel, S. (1999). Stand and Unfold Yourself. Report on the Shakespeare & Co. Summer Shakespeare Program. Chapter in E. Fiske (Ed.), Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning. Washington DC: Arts Education Partnership and President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, 79-90.
Shakespeare and Company is a classical professional theater engaged in producing plays, training actors, and teaching Shakespeare at the elementary, secondary, and undergraduate levels. In order to understand what high school student participants were learning in two programs, the researcher used an ethnographic research method to observe and investigate the programs and the principles, structures, and pedagogy at the foundation of the learning experiences. The Fall Festival of Shakespeare is an annual project that involves ten schools and reaches over four hundred students. The National Institute on Teaching Shakespeare is an annual month-long intensive institute for high school literature teachers to provide pedagogical practices for teaching Shakespeare in the classroom. Both programs use project-based learning approaches that provide authentic experiences, academic rigor, and applied learning opportunities. Through observations, interviews, and review of program documentation, the researcher found that drama provides an ideal setting for deeper learning experiences.
Students developed greater understandings of Shakespeare plays through the practice of rehearsing, acting, and investigating various interpretations of the plays to bring them to life on stage. Many of the student participants reported that they used the active reading skills developed in the Shakespeare program in other academic areas such as math, physics, and other types of literature. Students gained knowledge and understanding of Shakespeare, Elizabethan era language, and strategies for approaching and reading Shakespeare’s plays. Students also gained acting skills, learned how to collaborate in creative communities, and learned how to connect their self-knowledge to social and intellectual development.