Often in an attempt to acquaint minority students with “classic” literature, teachers of English assign students reading that is not appropriate. Many times students are assigned works they simply do not understand.
Teachers have a special responsibility to students. They must be able to justify teaching a curriculum. Not just because it is “classic” literature. Young minority students need to be exposed to “classic” literature, but they need to be able to relate or they will not benefit.
A plot in a Shakespearean drama may seem to be irrelevant to the minority youth of today. They are seeking to solve problems in their own lives. Thus many minority youth turn a deaf ear to “classic” literature.
This unit can be taught in the middle school, grades 6-8. It is designed for slow learners, but not limited to slow learners. The suggested teaching time for this unit is eight to ten weeks. Teachers will be able to introduce students to the joys of reading the well known classic, ROMEO and JULIET. It includes discussion questions, questionnaires of facts, vocabulary study, lesson plans, and lists of books, films, and recordings for both teachers and students.
The feuding Montagues and Capulets in old Verona may raise the question of family loyalty. Students will be able to sort out their own sense of family. Is family loyalty important and why? How far does one go? Is individuality within the family as important as family unity and strength? How is individuality developed without a lost of family loyalty?
Youth of the middle school age group will find it easy to relate to conflicts. Most young people will experience some type of conflict during this period. It may be family, peer, school, or community gang. What may not be so easy is finding ways to sort out individual feelings, effects and solutions.
Both Romeo and Juliet and Westside Story are centered around conflicts of young people. The adults seemed alienated from the needs of the youths and are not sympathetic to them.