“Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” –
William Butler Yeats

So a few weeks ago I learned a disturbing fact, 4 out of the 6 seventh grade girls that are in my show at work couldn’t recognize or tell me a single fact about the Gettysburg Address. After being in shock for a few days and sending my husband a short text message saying only “I have lost all faith in the public school system.” I returned with my head held high and began asking one of my group 2 groups of girls questions about it.

“Do you know where Gettysburg is?”, etc., followed for about 10 minutes with my giving them answers when they had made enough good guesses. Following that came a short possibly true family story about Jesse James (same time period), them discovering what John Wilkes Booth has in common with the theatre and to end the day came enlightenment about the Emperor of the United States.

A few days later the same group is back for another show and they come up to be faces beaming. One of the actresses has promised them each $5 if they can recite the entire Gettysburg Address by the end of the run in a month with out stopping. They show me their computer print out with pride and then ask “What are we going to learn about today?” followed by “Yeah, that was fun. Way more fun than learning it in school.” I was ecstatic as only children excited about learning can do to me. The lesson of that night was about King Henry VII and by the end of the show all three of those girls could tell you about the real King and about why the Shakespeare play Henry VIII (which was also playing at our theatre that night) left out some key pieces of information. That’s right I not only taught these kids facts in about 20 minutes, but actually encouraged them to apply their new knowledge to something else!

At the end of the show I told them, if they were interested in learning more and playing our little learning game again they could pick the subject for the next show. I said this really half expecting them to be over it by now. But before they left they gave me my marching orders. The next show will be about “Anything you know about the Boston Tea Party or the Boston Massacre!”

So I’m off to research the Boston Tea Party… any ideas about how to relate that to Shakespeare?

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