THE ROMEO AND JULIET
PROJECT HAS VALUE IN THE CLASSROOM
“Romeo and Juliet” is an epic story of love, revenge and tragedy. Although written by Shakespeare in the 1500’s, its themes and story are still relevant in today’s world. This play is often read in high school English classes and sometimes students are allowed to watch screen versions of the play or see it performed live while they are reading the play. A Grosse Pointe South English class was allowed this year to work with students in Van Meter, Iowa and to film their own version of this classic play. A South parent recently contacted the Grosse Pointe School Board arguing that this class should be taking a more traditional approach to learning, such as reading the play, taking notes and then a test; instead of creating a film version with students from another school. The Grosse Pointe School Board should understand that alternative ways of learning, such as filming this play and collaborating with other students, has educational value.
Film is an art form that takes a lot of teamwork. Students were able to pick a job that they felt comfortable in and wanted to do. They learned that in order to create a good film, every part is important. A good film needs a good script, good actors, good directors and good people in the background. Every job is connected to the next job and every job is necessary and important. Students had to work together as a team to complete each section of the play. They learned valuable skills such as teamwork and responsibility. In addition to teamwork, it is beneficial for students to learn through hands on experience.
It is a benefit when everyone becomes involved in the play. Every student was assigned a job in the production. The writers from both schools had to rewrite the play in their own version. Then the play was handed over to the directors and actors. There was a lot of work to do even before the filming started. Everyone had to work to complete their part before the next phase of the production could start. All students spent many hours outside of the classroom time working on this project. Everyone bonded and had fun while they were learning and sharing ideas. This project was a hands on experience. Students became more involved and became interested in putting together a quality project. This hands on experience, in addition to collaborating with other students, gave everyone a better understanding of the play and its themes.
When students collaborate with other students, there is more opportunity to share, discuss and exchange ideas. All the writers from both schools had to write the entire play together. The play was written using teenage lingo. In addition, the play was written using real life settings and real life experiences. By placing the characters in today’s world with today’s language, the students could better understand the themes and ideas from the play and how they still relate in their lives. Collaboration, together with the use of modern technology, has educational value.
Computers, recording devices and other modern technology play a major role in a teenager’s life. This generation can communicate and translate ideas instantly. Years ago, to work with another school, the only option was to send letters through regular mail. Now, with computers and programs like Skype and email, we can talk and immediately transmit messages. Pictures and film can be instantly downloaded and sent through the internet. Students use computers and Skype and email to communicate with friends outside of school, so why not use this method as part of an educational experience? In today’s world, any student with a camera phone can create a film or homemade video and put it on sites like YouTube. It makes sense to use our current technology for educational purposes.
Instead of wasting time filming goofy stuff, the School Board should appreciate students spending free time filming a classic like Romeo and Juliet.
The Grosse Pointe School Board should be encouraging teachers to come up with new and exciting ways to teach their students. Traditional ways to learn a play like Romeo and Juliet such as reading the play and taking a test or writing a paper has value. However, there is also value in other ways of learning. Students can learn by becoming a part of the play and part of a team. Translating a classic to a modern version and working with other students in other parts of the County helps students to better understand the characters, themes and values. Finally, using modern technology to help learn and understand a classic is a good way for students to spend their time doing something that teenagers can relate to, such as making a film and using blogs and computers.