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Macbeth for Year 1?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by emma44, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    That's fine if you have a HT who will say to parents "If you don't like what we teach etc etc then you are free to choose another school"

    My comments about JWs etc objecting to Macbeth of course includes any age their children might be at. That goes without saying. I had a fundamentalist Christian parent into school to see me because I was dealing with Saint Saens and "Danse Macabre" . She objected to the content of skeletons emerging from the grave to dance. I held the day with my argument that the point was about good triumphing over evil etc.I would far rather that 20 minutes of my time had not been taken up with that but I know it happens and Macbeth is an issue for some groups of people.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Do you know I taught with a Head just like that. She invited prospective parents to look around and said, "If you want to run away screaming and find another school, that's fine."
    thinky and HelenREMfan like this.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Given that Halloween these days freaks me out far more than any year 1 child, I doubt they will be upset by the mere idea of witches.

    I love that teachers are exciting children about Shakespeare and his plays (which were always designed to be watched rather than read, so no wonder many children are turned off by reading the things in KS3/4) and using them in class. However, age appropriate content means Macbeth is possibly not the best one to choose. Maybe choose a different play now and save Macbeth for Halloween time and read a story version then?
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I agree we need to enthuse our children about Shakespeare and rather like listening to opera as opposed to just hearing it Shakespeare is best appreciated visually. Then later on one can appreciate the beautiful use of language.
  5. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    We had Jehovah's witness and Evangelical parents insisting they withdraw their children (KS2) from lessons involving Harry Potter and MacBeth as they involved witches, wizards, spells etc.In their view Halloween was never to be mentioned and any book with the word 'witch' in it should be removed from the school library! They could not see why a Church of England school (with a very Christian curriculum) would want to teach children using these texts. They were of the opinion that it would lead to the children being influenced by evil and losing their faith. I don't think that telling the 'religious views parents to get into the 21st century' would have had a positive effect at all. I don't agree with their views, but I don't think we should be telling others what to believe.
    HelenREMfan and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    Well, personally I don't think there should be any faith schools either.

    I never said it would have a positive effect. Doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.
  7. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    They need to integrate! If they don't like it, they can go back to their own countries ;)

    I am joking, but I am also being serious - in Literature we do not teach nice, happy books. Look at what they'll face at GCSE: Macbeth (witches, murder, regicide, suicide, infanticide); Romeo and Juliet (murder, teenage sex, double suicide); The Tempest (magic, death); The Merchant of Venice (racism); Julius Caesar (sex, murder); Jekyll & Hyde (repression of dark desires; murder); Christmas Carol (ghosts); Jane Eyre (most depressing book ever! unwanted orphan sent to an orphanage, best mate there dies of TB, lover already has a wife, injured in a fire); Frankenstein (playing God, murder, infanticide)...

    In my bottom set Y10 class last week, reading the end of A Christmas Carol, there was a spontaneous discussion on post-death wishes, made all the more poignant by something one member of the class is experiencing in their home life.

    I know this thread is about Y1 students, but if you do not allow children to be exposed to classic literature simply because it has ghosts or witches or magic in it, then they lose out, and are all the poorer for it. :(
    Milgod likes this.
  8. vannie

    vannie Star commenter

    And the award for the rudest reply to people who are giving an opinion after being asked for it goes to ..... (drumroll)
    You got the wrong forum. The T w i n k l KS1 facebook page is what you need.
    'Oh emma44 you're so amazing! That's truly inspirational! Aren't you clever!' Off you pop.
  9. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    My previous school had many JW children and I had one who objected to pretty much all literacy we did. Didn't like it when we did Beowulf and didn't like it when we did Christmas Carol. The following year a JW parent wanted their child to do all of the literacy we did as, although it was against their beliefs, it was literature and important that their child learnt it. Interestingly one of the children left KS2 as a level 3 across the board and one as a level 5 across the board! Bet you can't guess which was which!
  10. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    A lot of Shakespeare's plays are quite intense and contain violence, death and dark themes. As you know Shakespeare wrote comedies, tragedies etc etc.

    Macbeth i feel would be too in depth and complicated for Year 1. I would lean more towards A Midsummer Night Dream as its a comedy with fantastical elements and characters, or Romeo and Juliet (but again there are themes of violence, death and suicide in it so might not be advisable).

    You could perhaps skip out a few bits where Juliet drinks the poison. Its up to you as to how you think they will handle some of the scenes and text especially as its quite poetic symbolic language. Would the children understand the overtones of the text? You could simplify it for them?

    The Tempest you could possibly use, A Midsummer Night Dream or possibly Romeo and Juliet?
    emma44 likes this.
  11. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    The potential issue would be the sheer complexity and richness of Shakespearean text. It can be a task to decipher as he writes his plays in a highly poetic and symbolic manner. Year 1 children are still learning the basics of the English language and may only serve to cause more confusion.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  12. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    I salute how you are trying something different. The only way you will gage as to how successful it will go is to indeed give it a go.
    emma44 likes this.
  13. emma44

    emma44 New commenter

    Thank you!
    pickles124 likes this.
  14. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Although I was a secondary teacher, I have taught Shakespeare in primary (run sessions with primary teachers) and it has gone down really well.

    I agree with those who have suggested Macbeth is too dark for year 1. By time you have unpicked all the darkness, there is little left. It will be done to death when they are older too, so better to introduce them to plays they are less likely to meet.

    You do not need to use whole plays. I have successfully used Pericles, A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It, which are fairy-tale like in character.
    pickles124, stupot101 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    It's not any more terrible for children than Snow White eating a poisoned apple.

    No need to the OP to simplify the language, plenty of authors have already done it to a great standard.
    thinky likes this.
  16. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Agree about the proliferation of 'easy Shakespeare versions out there.

    The thing about the poisoned apple in Snow White is that she recovers, whereas in R & J they both die, which may make a difference with very young children, though older KS2 could probably cope.
    MSND or even The Tempest, very similar to Fairy tales in many ways are good options for an introduction and might make a better choice?
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Very young children have no real concept of death, so they tend not to fuss about it the way older children do and adults certainly do. I've never done much with R&J, it isn't one of my favourite plays so I've not used it.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  18. steveabey

    steveabey New commenter

    Why would you want to?
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Why wouldn't you?
  20. pcsmush

    pcsmush Occasional commenter

    I'm guessing you work in a one form entry school? I can't imagine you being able to be this forceful about using Macbeth as your key text if you had other colleagues in your year group.

    I'm a Year 1 teacher myself and I'm just confused to why you would automatically think of using Macbeth. Does it fit in with a theme? I'm guessing 'Castles' (or something similar) if so? (If that is the case I have so many boo suggestions you can use instead). Even if you were going to use a children's version of Macbeth, I still generally think it is very dark. Also...I would be prepared for questions from parents about how you're using the text. I studied Macbeth for GCSE and so will have many of your parents and I'm sure they will be slightly concerned about your use of the text.

    If you wanted to introduce Shakespeare the choice I would personally go with is 'A Midsummer's Night Dream'. I've used it in my Enchanted Forest theme and the children loved it. You can easily get a three and four weeks of work from the text (maybe even enough to last a half-term). :)

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