No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

Hobart Shakespeareans

Recently saw the Hobart Shakespeareans, a documentary about Rafe Esquith's 5th grade class at Hobart Elementary in LAUSD, the second largest elementary school in the country. He gets his kids to sign up for mental bootcamp, getting learning in from the buttcrack of dawn to long afterschool and through the holidays. Part of the program is to present one of Shakespeare's plays. Okay, by the end of the year, they are not quite ready for the RSC (though they're good enough to 'open' for them), but the beneficial and transformative effect on the kids is palpable.
It's inspiring and a feel-good story, but in the back of my mind, I can't help think that in the classroom right next door to his, it's business as usual. If Rafe gets run over by a truck, it all comes to an end. Rafe has inspired his kids, and no doubt many educators, but there's really no way to clone millions of Rafes to teach our kids. Jaime Escalante was much the same - he left Garfield High and "In the space of just a few years, Garfield experienced a sevenfold drop in the number of A.P. calculus students passing their exams. In 1996, Angelo Villavicencio contacted Garfield’s new principal, Tony Garcia, and offered to come back to help revive the dying calculus program. His offer was politely rejected."
Escalante's own school was unable to keep up his tradition without him. I'm afraid Rafe's legacy will be the same. Fortunately for us, he's still there doing what he does. I'm sure he couldn't not do what he does.
The trick is to create more Jaimes and Rafes. I expect it would require cattle-prods and direct electrical stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain.

*rubs chin and considers applying for grant*
Tags: film, la

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