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Getting through troubling times with Shakespeare

Nicole Jackson, English teacher, Slate Canyon Youth Center

I’ve seen the influence of Shakespeare’s writings in many ways. But for the incarcerated young men at the Slate Canyon Youth Center in south Provo, having Utah Valley University literature students direct them in the study and performance of a Shakespeare play is a major catalyst for change. I’ve also seen valuable development in the UVU students as they apply what they’re learning in class to improving the lives of others.

Twice a week for four weeks each semester, UVU students come to Slate Canyon to help my students learn the meaning of Shakespeare’s writing, memorize a script and rehearse lines and acting roles, culminating with a performance of the play in front of family and friends. By taking ownership in their performing roles, my students develop confidence, self-esteem, pride and other social skills that translate to more respectful behavior outside of confinement.

For the UVU students, this is truly an example of learning by doing. I believe this out-of-class experience enhances their own understanding of literature and gives them more insight into how our correctional system functions. Even literature, in its applicable form, can make a difference.

(Read about this story from the perspective of UVU students.)

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