This past summer, I did a reading/book-signing at the independent bookshop over in Saratoga Springs. After the talk, the young woman employee who organized the whole thing asked me to stay and autograph the remaining books. As she passed, and I signed, assembly-line style, we chatted.
I remarked, “How lucky you are to have a job in a bookshop!”
“Yes,” she agreed. “Pay isn’t great, but I just love it.” She added, “I do have a ‘day job’.”
“Yes. I teach 9th grade English at a high school near here.”
“How is that?” I wanted to know. “Do you confiscate their f-ing cell phones and iPods at the classroom door so they will actually sit and listen?”
She said she did, and THEN she shared this:
The curriculum requires that she teach “Romeo and Juliet.”
(Oh thank goodness, I murmured; once, when I visited Wes’s 9th grade classroom on Open House night, I’d flagged down the teacher to decry the choice of “King Lear.” Like teenagers give the smallest shit about confronting death and mortality?! Like teenagers give the smallest shit about the thoughts of an old man…as if!)
Sometimes 9th grade teachers teach “Romeo and Juliet” by showing films, old or new, of the play…..or even showing them “West Side Story.”
But this young teacher had another idea: she broke the class down into groups of two or three, then had each group choose a scene from the play that included two or more characters. Then, they had to rewrite it in text messages! She reported that “they got up to their elbows in the story.” Mission accomplished.
“O! I am fortune’s fool!” = became, Romeo: FML
“Parting is such sweet sorrow” = GTG
When Romeo sees Juliet, it’s = OMG baby grl!!
When he meets her, it’s = Can I talk w u, 121? 2NTE??