Alien or ally?

by Caitlin Beresford-Ord | 1 September 2016

Miss, the stories are good but why didn’t he talk in English?

This question was first posed to me about four years ago whilst teaching a Macbeth master class in Carnarvon in the far north of Western Australia. It’s a great question, not because I agree or have found myself wondering the same thing but because of the opportunity it presents.

The boy who asked me this question was greeted with enthusiastic nods from many of his fellow students so it was pretty apparent that he wasn’t alone in his views. To be honest, there’s nothing particularly surprising in the question either – except that it was asked at all. It’s those wonderful moments when a student gives voice to their thoughts, isn’t satisfied with what they’ve been told, is sufficiently engaged enough with the ideas to challenge them – that’s where the real learning, on both sides, takes place.

I had been working as an Arts Educator for Bell Shakespeare Company for a few years by this stage and had had many wonderful experiences conducting master classes for students all over the state. I was enjoying the work so much, learning huge amounts about myself as an artist and educator that it took me several years to recognise that more often than not it was the same schools I was returning to each year. The same teachers invited me back, the same master classes were requested, all of which is wonderful and exactly what one would hope. But it got me wondering about other schools and other areas. With very few exceptions these schools were affluent private or independent public schools with specialist programmes.

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