Antigone and Drama

Today we started our Antigone reading. Honestly, the kids love this story better than any other story we’ve read so far.

Perhaps it’s the incest, magic, and intrigue of a world we’ve never known.

We started off the day with vocabulary work and then quickly moved into our big question: How do we cope we death? From there we recapped last week’s “Shoofly Pie” and segway’d into this week’s question, “Where is our ultimate loyalty?” We discussed what loyalty means and where we owe our loyalty. Most of the kids said family or religion — which was surprising. I had a few that said that their greatest loyalty was to themselves, which isn’t all that surprising. I explained to them that we’d be reading a Greek tragedy and that we’d need to understand the loyalties of the Greeks to understand the story.

The Greek loyalties, I know (thanks to Western Civ at OBU) are first to the gods, the to the country, then to the family. Any action that would put you at odds with one of those three loyalities was BAD. The order of these loyalities is NOT interchangeable. If an action was for family but was in treason to your country: forget it. You’re screwed.

It took a lot of time for the kids to fully understand that. And after that I had to explain Oedipus’ family tree — which gets a BIT tangled. I retold the story of Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colunus in my very best ghetto voice, which actually kept their attention better than reading the summary in an ordinary voice would. I then had to explain the nuances of incest and the fact that their children wouldn’t necessarily be handicapped because this was a very long time ago and bloodlines were not so muddled with mutations as they are today. The students struggled with this… but by the end of the day I think they understood it.

We discussed tragic heroes and fate at length and then set into group work. I split up the class into 4 or five groups of 4 and they were assigned parts. They have a reading log and group questions after each section. I set them to work with four groups in the classroom and one outside. They ate it up. Never have I seen the read so dramatically and feel so into the story as they did today.

I think I found out two things about my classes:

1. They need the summary made plain, in layman’s terms.

2. They need self-guided learning. They need to read it and talk it through.

Though the latter part of the class was crazy chaotic… I do believe they understand what’s going on. Which is SUCH a Godsend for me. I’ve been dreading teaching them drama but then I forgot, I guess… they’re high schoolers: they love drama.

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