I may have mentioned, one or two thousand times, that my daughter is finally learning Shakespeare in class. Last week she had her first test. Beforehand we went through the obligatory joking, me telling her to find some other place to live if she doesn’t ace it, her saying, “I know, I know…” That sort of thing.
She has the test. Texts me when she gets home from school, “That was the easiest thing ever.”
Gets her grade back on Friday – a 92%. She is *livid*. The school actually posts scores online ahead of time, before you ever get to see the exam, so she doesn’t know why she got a 92 or what she got wrong. It’s Friday night, she and I are at the dress rehearsal for her dance recital, and she is standing there in full makeup and costume grilling me over the answers to the questions she can remember (e.g. whether “feathers heavier than lead” counts as an oxymoron) and basically planning all possible outcomes for what might have happened. Stupid error on her part? Fine. Stupid, but fine, her fault. Question that she flat out gets wrong because she did not know the answer? Again, fine. Wouldn’t be happy about it, but wrong is wrong, and that’s how we learn what right is.
What she’s preparing for is the technicality, the matter of interpretation / opinion, the answer where it’s technically right but arguably not exactly what the teacher wanted. She’s bracing herself for this outcome, and what she will do if that’s the case. I suggested that she bite her thumb at the teacher. She thought that was a great idea. I said no, that’s not a great idea, don’t do that. As we followed the stage managers out onto dress rehearsal, she told me that if necessary she’s going to need me to bring the full force of the blog down upon him, to right any wrongs that may occur.
Well we got the test back.
Wrong answer #1: “Which of the following things does Lord Capulet call Tybalt?” followed multiple choice answers like “saucy boy” and some others that I’m sure I would not have remembered. She picked one. Answer was actually “all of the above”. Oh well.
Wrong answer #2: What city does the play take place in? She wrote verona. As in, without a capital V. Got partial credit. That’s just one of those “What are ya gonna do?” moments. It’s technically wrong. I’d like to see how many kids didn’t actually write down Verona at all, for comparison, to see how important it is. I wonder if she’d capitalized it but spelled it wrong (Varona?) whether it would have been a partial answer or not.
Wrong answer #3: Here’s where it gets interesting. The question was, who brings the invitation list to Romeo to read it? She answered, “A Capulet servant who can’t read.” The answer the teacher wanted? “Clown.” (Which is ironic because when they read the play in class, that’s the role she played.)
Again, I can see why he wanted that answer. But my daughter doesn’t understand why hers is wrong. The First Folio (I checked) does say “Enter Clown”, even though his actual lines are prefaced with “Ser” as in “Servant”. My daughter asked me why he’s even called a clown, he doesn’t do anything funny. I tried to explain the role of the clown as a specific thing, he’s not just some random clown wandering through the streets, how many of the plays have somebody in that exact role, but my heart wasn’t in it. I thought about bringing up terms like “commedia dell’arte” but I thought I’d lose her, plus my understanding of that area isn’t strong.
All in all, not the worst showing. 2 out of 3 mistakes were just silly, and 1 falls into that bucket of “there’s lots of ways to answer this question and I didn’t pick the one the teacher wanted”. The most important lesson, from where I sit, is that she takes her understanding of Shakespeare very seriously and wants to confirm at every opportunity that she does, in fact, know what she’s talking about. I’m ok with that.