This past March, I was invited by my university to spend a week in Scotland teaching Leadership workshops using Shakespeare. This was an incredible opportunity that I simply couldn’t pass up, and I am so humbled by the experience. I decided to use the Bard’s Macbeth as my foundation for exploration. I mean, when in Scotland… why not use THE Scottish play? The middle school at which I taught was a mere fifteen minutes from the Glamis castle mentioned in the play!
I created and taught two workshops on Macbeth (taught multiple times): the first introduced the students to Shakespeare and his work, gave them the full scope of Macbeth’s journey, and set their minds to thinking about Macbeth’s great fall as a leader. As you might note at the beginning of the work, Macbeth is a trusted leader, military hero, and loyal friend. How quickly he falls, however, without trusting the strength of his own will and the satisfaction of his current status. How far he falls, too, as he continues to snowball one bad leadership choice into another. This was a fun workshop as my two team members and I performed several scenes from the play, making sure to get a few brave pupils to play as well.
In the second workshops, my team and I visited individual classes who had attend the first large-group workshops, giving all of the students a chance to perform scenes and discuss ideas. We warmed up with some fun Shakespeare games, let the students perform, and then broke into smaller groups to re-write Macbeth in outline form (using strong leadership choices where Macbeth made poor ones). The ideas could be as creative as the students desired, but they had to show smart and consistent choices within the context of the play. For example, one group suggested that instead of Macbeth listening to his wife’s evil advice to kill the king, he could have consulted a trusted friend, or listened to himself.
My highest goal was to help these 8th graders understand that they ARE leaders now; leadership isn’t just for people elected into high positions. Everyone has a circle of influence, and others are always watching and learning from them. The point is to decide NOW what kind of leader they want to be, and to make good, powerful choices every day in that direction. Overall, this was an incredible experience, and we felt that the students reacted well to workshops. It was also lovely to see the faculty and administration’s response– if we can support educators in any way, we’ll do it!
Here are some photos from the trip. Of course, I can’t post any photos of students due to privacy laws, so you’ll have to accept these as proof that I was there:
I met the most incredible people on this trip. The Scottish are so lovely and hospitable. I’ll have to write another post about our work with a local church and our beautiful host families. What a meaningful experience!