Education | English Language and Literature


This essay examines the ways in which teachers (specifically pre-service teachers) can approach teaching Shakespeare’s work in a culturally responsive manner in order to promote anti-racism and social awareness in the classroom, school community, and the world. This proposal for teaching Shakespeare includes a case study of Othello that is designed according to the principles in the Social Justice Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (SJPACK) framework created by Jeanne Dyches and Ashley Boyd to prepare pre-service teachers for the discussions about race they will someday facilitate with their students. The framework focuses on teaching the history of racism in the Early Modern era and comparing it to racism today (and to Othello) and teaching other texts, written by authors of color, beside Othello, and asking students to consider the themes and ideas that the two texts share. The last suggestion is that students should be exposed to literary criticism regarding Othello, prompting them to develop their own beliefs and readings of the text, especially in terms of racism. Based on research, I conclude that teaching Shakespeare is critical in contributing to a middle school or high school student’s understanding of the history of racism in the western world and offering them the tools and knowledge to combat racism and white supremacy in their own communities.

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