The Life of Bon: The darndest things

Friday, September 09, 2011

The darndest things

I'm starting a Shakespeare unit with my sophomores.  I decided to test the waters to see how much they know about the old man.  He's the greatest playwright of all time, they've got to know something about the guy, right?

Ah, he's a handsom fella, ain't he?


Me: "When was Shakespeare born, you guys?  Who knows or thinks they have a rough estimate?"
Kid #1: 1210!
Me:  No... you're off by a few hundred years there....
Kid #2:  1943! 
Me:  1943?!?!?!  You think Shakespeare was born during World War II?
Kid #2: That's not what I said.
Me: World War II was in 1943...
Kid #2:  Oh, I didn't know that...

Time to shift gears, I quickly realized.  I thought they would at least have a slight idea that he born around 1500 or 1600 but I was just so depressed that one kid guessed 300 years too early, and another guessed 400 years too late that I gave up and told them the answer (1564, for those of you who are wondering)  With an optimistic heart still in place, I decided to move on to plays that he has written.

Me:  What are some of Shakespeare's most famous plays?
Kid #3:  I know! I know!
Me:  What?
#3: (Looking as if he thinks he is absolutely brilliant) You're going to be so impressed that I know this- Romeo and Juliet!!!!
Me:  Good job.  You got the most famous piece of literature of all time. Must have been hard for you pull that one out.  Anyone know any others?  Maybe some that aren’t quite as well known?
Kid #4:  The one with the two cities?
Me: two cities?
#4:  Yah… I think it’s like A Tale of Two Cities or something
Me: (thinking the kid is an idiot, but not wanting to hurt his feelings) Well, that’s by Charles Dickens.... and it was written about 300 years after Shakespeare lived.... but they are both from England, so, good job, you got that part right… anyone else?
Kid #5:  I know I know!
Me: (Hoping and begging that this kid is going to redeem his class) Yes?
#5: That one with the little guy with the magic powers..
Me: (My mind is racing… could the guy be Puck?...Oh my gosh, I've got a genius admist the class!  Not only does he know about Puck, but he also has correctly identified the play we will be studying next!!!)  Midsummer Night’s Dream?
#5:  (As if it is a ludicrous suggestions) No!!!  Who's ever heard of that?...  The one where the guy can spin the princess’s hair into gold.
Me:  Gold!?!? (thinking, thinking, the only thing I've ever read where a guy can spin hair into gold is....)  Rumpelstiltsken?!?!?
#5:  Yah!  That one!!!!

And that's when I just started laughing.  What else could I do?  You can only seek brilliance for so long before you realize the quest is futile.  These poor kids, they ain't got a clue in the world.  In thier books, Shakespeare is just some weirdo guy from World War II who wrote Rumpelstiltsken.


  1. I see you've been updating your blog...I'm proud of you, Bon. :)

  2. David and I had a HUGE laugh after this post, that I just had to comment (which by the way, I've been reading your blog since the time you started it because I'm that intrigued by high school teachers, which is honestly no lie!).

    Sometimes I feel that humanity itself has the right amount of smart just to sustain the economy, and then I read your posts about the children we teach. Are we doomed for good without actually dwelving into history for the greater good?

    ...or are we out there just for the laughs. I guess I can say both.