A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munch’d, and munch’d, and munch’d:–
Macbeth, I, iii
So the students could either give a short talk for their final exam or do two quizzes and some self-assessment. They overwhelmingly opted not to talk, and those that chose to give talks did quite well, and surprisingly, one of the classes with the least amount of ability (I had thought) all of a sudden showed a lot of promise. I gave them the option to talk about anything they wanted, and they got into movies, Hungarian poets from the 19th century and graphic novels – they weren’t the most well-spoken, they got stuck searching for words a few times, but their passion for their interests came through just fine.
Next week I’m to sit on an exam board for the students in the bilingual program (they take History, Government, Geography and other courses in English) to see whether they (individually) should continue in the program. I might be more nervous about it than they.
The temperature has been in the 30s during the day, yet one of the teachers closes the three windows (out of our six) nearest her desk, despite the fact the room gets no breeze and there are 10 bodies in the small space. She’s the teacher who, when leaving or entering, neglects to close the door to the corridor – a sacred no-no. The warmth has been accompanied by a strawberry/cherry stand outside the school and new waves of tiny flowers. The rhododendrons are just about done for the season.
Monday is another holiday – Pentecost. I’ll have just one more class with some groups due to the scheduling. And that just doesn’t seem possible.
I’m sensing minute progress for a number of students, but it seems so tiny given the amount of effort. Some have begun to tease me, or play little word jokes, and more come up after class to get in a word without their colleagues being able to hear their mistakes. Two boys stopped by after one of yesterday’s classes and wanted to know whether I’ll be here next year and seemed pleased that I was staying, relieved that they wouldn’t have to adapt to yet one more Angol Lektor.
This week I’ve been introducing Macbeth to most of the classes, comparing it to the Sopranos and Game of Thrones, talking about the Pink Panther theme and how it represents the rhythm of English and how Poe used trochees and Shakespeare iambs, and iambs are the rhythm of hip-hop, too. I wove James Brown’s funk drumming in and slipped in the griot tradition and tried to get them started about who controls the story of culture – the posh? The posh teach Shakespeare today, but in his time he was a Shonda Rhimes, providing entertainment to the masses; we talked about sampling and earworms, then listened to 2Cellos play an AC/DC song, then to their playing of the Game of Thrones theme and we talked about Dubrovnik’s increase in tourism because it was the site of Game of Thrones filming, and two girls just can’t stop talking about how exciting it is to learn about medieval times through the show and most of the kids aren’t bothered by its violence yet others are. Most classes got to play out scene 1 from the first act of Macbeth and I pointed out that when they spoke individually they didn’t sound like witches but when they read as trios
Fair is foul, and foul is fair.
Hover through the fog and filthy air
they sounded so, so witchy and they – even the guys – got excited about hearing their combined voices change the mood.
And so did I. I tell them that Macbeth is not only about ambition and greed, but also raises the question of whether we control our destinies, our fates. Witches might not truly exist, but does anyone control his or her life or future?
Many days I think about how fortunate I am to have been given this opportunity so late in life.