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Teaching Shakespeare News

On 30th June 2017, Sarah Olive gave a presentation on the impact beyond academia of Teaching Shakespeare to a committee in the Department of Education, University of York. Present were Baroness Morris of Yardley; Anthony Tomei CBE, Director of the Salters’ Institute; and Tom McBride, Director of Evidence, Early Intervention Foundation as well as senior departmental figures including the Head of Department, Dr Beatrice Szczepek Reed, and outgoing and incoming directors of research, Professor Robert Klassen and Dr Emma Marsden.

The presentation traced the way in which Sarah’s ongoing research on Shakespeare in education has suggested a disjoin between the amount of international Shakespeare teaching activity and the accessibility (economic, temporal and aesthetic) of critical and reflective writing for Shakespeare educators worldwide. It briefly outlined the history of the magazine, with Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves, then President of the BSA, inviting Sarah to found and edit the journal with him, Dr James Stredder, then Chair of the Education Committee, and Debbie Williams, Head of UCLan Publishing. The idea was to contribute to filling this gap and to enable the BSA to better represent, serve and connect with its non-academic members (or those with roles in academia and other sectors).

The presentation was a wonderful reflective opportunity, providing opportunity to think about the sorts of impact we would like to evidence and achieve with the magazine in the future. It was also fun to marvel at a few headlines:

  • Links to the free, online copy of Teaching Shakespeare are emailed to over 1000 people each issue, including over 100 teachers
  • In 30 days, our first summer issue, Teaching Shakespeare 12 had 110 downloads
  • The Times Education Supplement’s resources for teachers website also hosts the magazine: the 12 issues available there have been viewed4410 times and downloaded 1256 times
  • Over 1100 hard copies of the magazine have been distributed to educators at events, conferences, visits to schools and theatres in Europe, North America and Asia
  • In 2018, we will have included writing on teaching Shakespeare in 1x countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Oman, UK, US and Vietnam, as well as Japanese and Singaporean reflections on Shakespeare teaching in England
  • Those who have read our work come from 53 countries and 6 continents (please recommend us to readers in Antarctica): Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, UK, US, Vietnam
  • We have received generous support to keep the online magazine freely available to all readers from other educational charities, publishers, research bodies and universities totalling over £3000

The committee unanimously praised the magazine’s achievements thus far. However, they suggested that collecting the views and experiences of readers and contributors with roles outside academia – about the magazine’s impact on their practices, from the choice of Shakespearean texts for reading and teaching to confidence with Shakespeare (and everything inbetween), career development, extracurricular Shakespeare activities with participants of any age (calling am dram stars and directors!), thinking about and attitudes towards teaching Shakespeare – is critical to demonstrating its impact.

If you have time to help us with this, by participating in a Skype or telephone interview (around 30 minutes) with Dr Chelsea Swift (University of Lancaster), please email c.swift1@lancaster.ac.uk by 24th July. A £10 Amazon voucher awaits you as a small token of our thanks. For further details of the study see our previous blog post.

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