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The idea of making a woman more suitable to a man is offensive to most. The humor that is apparent is couched in the truly horrible conditions under which Kate must live. Her lack of choice in how she will live her life is dramatic when compared to the relative freedom of women today. I wanted my students to explore these characters and see the ways in which we still have these types in our modern culture. It was a successful unit this year that allowed my students to continue to explore issues of sexism and women’s rights as well as to see the roots of our cultures understanding of femininity and masculinity.

When I listened to them during class discussion and analyzed the work that they turned in I discovered that they were very clear that what we might find offensive now in the US would not be so offensive during the time that Shakespeare was writing. They had a strong awareness of the fact that things have changed dramatically for women in our history and used this to argue for the plays relevance as a historical text, from which we could learn about the ways in which society has progressed.

During the Performance project students were actively engaged in translating and interpreting the text in order to put it in more modern times. The fact that it didn’t take much to set this play in a modern social setting told all of us that the plays view of the relationship between women and men is not so different from the modern perspective. It was interesting to notice that the scenes set in the equivalent of a hip-hop style video were a logical and easy fit for students. Along with some reading of current hip-hop novels by Omar Tyree and Sister Souljah, I see a direct correlation between the idea of "taming a shrew" and "keeping your woman in check". So is this play sexist? Or is society inherently sexist, both historically and now?

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Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
Taming of the Shrew
by William Shakespeare
Subject: English/ELD
Grade Level: 10th

Lesson Plan Author: Sydney King
School: Skyline High School
Organization: OUSD