Lake Shore’s New Shakespeare Class: A Tragedy to Not Take

A favorite of literature devotees, Shakespeare has been added to the fold of curriculum here at Lake Shore for the 2016-2017 school year. Taught by Patrick Akerley, the Shakespeare class covers six of Shakespeare’s lesser known but impactful plays. The class is one trimester long, and will only be held the first trimester of this year during 2nd hour, although next year it is subject to change.

  Shakespeare is a unique writer and playwright, characterized by his use of rhythm, iambic pentameter, and awe inspiring wordplay. Iambic pentameter is a rhythmic tool where a line contains ten syllables, split into five parts called “iambs”. Having five parts to each line brings the term pentameter. Each iamb consists of one unstressed syllable, followed by one stressed syllable. Shakespeare used iambic pentameter to great extent, creating rhymes and patterns in his sonnets and plays. Although its creation of rhythm is useful, it can assist with memorizing a passage or work. “Shakespeare actually used iambic pentameter to help his actors memorize the plays,” says Akerley. Shakespeare’s works often contained prose as well, or lines without metrical structure. However, the unusual nature of iambic pentameter can be disorienting for the unacquitted. The class spends time teaching how to read Shakespeare’s work specifically, including his metrical structure, old english, and witty puns. This unorthodox writing and reading style can be a detrimental factor for the aspiring Shakespeare reader. In fact, even the writing itself can be found untasteful, and learning to be comfortable reading his works can be a task. “You have to learn to appreciate it,” tells Akerley, “and understand it on a deeper level.” To help with unfamiliar concepts, the class utilizes a variety of teaching strategies and class work. Such things like group projects and visualizing can help students understand the material. “The reading out loud and acting is really helpful,” says Tori Thomas, senior.

  Although Shakespeare is undoubtedly a very well known figure in literature, quite a few of his works elude the typical reader. His most common plays, such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth are read in most high school english classes. “96 percent of high schools teach the same five Shakespeare plays,” tells Akerley, “and my goal was to be part of that four percent.” Shakespeare’s works touches a range of genres; from dramas to comedies to even historical pieces. Joy Pearson, junior, says “We read a lot of new and different plays.” The course covers six plays of four different genres which consist of one history, one romance, two comedies, and two tragedies are part of the class curriculum. These plays were hand picked by Akerley. Being an entirely new class here at Lake Shore, Akerley has a very firm grip on the direction of the course content. “Since this class is new, it’s like clay; I can sort of mold it then way I want it to be,” says Akerley. Because the class is susceptible to change, it can offer unique perspectives. “Its nice to experience the literature in a different way,” says Julia Cann, senior.

  From this year onward, Lake Shore will have another fantastic literature course added to the mix. Although the Shakespeare class will not be running for the remainder of the year, it will certainly be available for next year’s school year.