Shakespeare can boost children’s confidence

Written by: Emma Lee-Potter | Published:

Studying Shakespeare at school improves pupils’ language skills and helps them to become more confident says a new study.

Research carried out by the University of Warwick on behalf of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) sought to evaluate the impact of the RSC’s active approach to teaching Shakespeare in the classroom.

This approach, which has been used by schools across the country involved in the RSC’s Associate Schools Programme, involves using the same techniques that actors use in rehearsals, such as getting students on their feet and moving around and playing games to bring out the rhythm and meaning of the Bard’s words.

Teachers were universally positive about the approach. Ninety-five per cent of those questioned said using the RSC’s methods to study Shakespeare had resulted in students becoming more willing to contribute ideas and opinions in class.

Meanwhile, 94 per cent said that the work had been a catalyst to improving pupils’ language skills and their confidence with language, as well as giving them valuable experience in speaking in front of their peers. This way of working was of particular benefit to boys who had previously been seen as “disengaged” or low-level learners.

The secondary school teachers also pointed out the RSC’s approach was particularly helpful in preparing students for the new GCSE exam, which requires them to critically analyse previously unseen sections of text.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, the RSC’s director of education, said: “The research results provide us with evidence that supports what we’ve always known – that the combination of Shakespeare’s complex language and a theatre-based approach to teaching combine to give children of all abilities the language and confidence to express themselves and their ideas more easily.”

  • The research will be discussed at a symposium for headteachers in Stratford-upon-Avon on June 22. For details, go to www.rsc.org.uk/education


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