The Ohio State University Partnership
Children and young people in Columbus schools are connecting with Shakespeare in their classrooms in new and active ways thanks to a unique three-year partnership between the RSC and OSU.
The 'Stand Up for Shakespeare America' project aims to raise the aspirations, achievements and literacy of children and young people across Ohio. It does this through training teachers to be skilled in using active, drama approaches to teaching Shakespeare and other complex texts.
These approaches encourage the development of a classroom 'ensemble' so that children and young people can work together in a creative exploration of the text; a process which mirrors RSC actors and directors at work.
The project is backed up by a research programme by OSU academic staff designed to understand the impact of the project and to share the learning as widely as possible.
Each year 20 teachers join the programme who start their training with an intensive five days in Stratford-upon-Avon to learn 'active approaches' to teaching Shakespeare and to see RSC Shakespeare productions. Over the year they are supported to develop their new practice in class by experts from OSU and RSC staff visit them in Ohio for further training days.
In the project's second year, we are seeing how ensemble ways of working builds trust and collaboration amongst young people and how engaging with the challenge of Shakespeare through active approaches brings new insights and learning for children aged 6 – 16.
'It is unbelievably amazing as I watch students – who consider school to be extremely hard – work with Shakespeare's text and understand it. They have debates about why a character says or does things. They are challenged to have an opinion and be able to justify it. They beg to do Shakespeare! How many times does a teacher get to hear that?' Sandy Guinto, Ohio teacher and participant in Stand Up for Shakespeare America
Find out more about the partnership at The Ohio State University and keep up to date with the latest news at the Ohio State Arts Initiative Blog.