I have always been convinced that children, and adults for that matter, learn in a wide variety of ways and that as teachers we have a responsibility to experiment with different teaching methods and approaches to find out what really works with our children.

The traditional ways of teaching involving everyone sitting at desks, listening to the teacher explain something and then setting a task for the children to show they have understood works pretty well most of the time, but not all of the time. Sometimes the teacher needs to take a risk and sometimes this won’t work as we had hoped, but that absolutely does not make the experience a wasted lesson. Rather it identifies an approach that needs reworking in order to ensure that the message gets across successfully. What is really important is to capture the students’ imagination and their interest and give them the opportunity to find things out for themselves.
This is why I was delighted to see the work that Year 6 have done on Shakespeare recently. At this age it is very easy to kill a subject like this stone dead. The language can be difficult to understand, the humour missed and the pace can be quite slow for ten year olds. The scope that the children were given to complete their mini-project on the Bard was extensive and this has led to a huge variety of different interpretations and some really first class work. These have included a life-size model of a witch, other models of Shakespearean characters, scenery and the Globe Theatre made out of Lego, papier mache, plaster, cardboard and even biscuits! There are also some really impressive presentation boards containing numerous facts about the great man and his plays. Finally one student produced a really impressive Shakespearean cake!

This sort of project is an ideal way to introduce the children to one of our greatest writers. They will certainly study his work in greater depth as they progress through school and university, but there is absolutely no doubt that the work that they have done this term has really caught their interest and this can only be a good thing.

Jerry Gear