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Campus Now

New Year Issue (Jan.)

From the classroom window

Here we will introduce high quality education being practiced and fitting of the name "Educational Waseda".

At Waseda University, in order to promote Faculty Development (FD), the FD Promotion Center was established in 2008 and is working to improve quality of education. We asked Professor Motoyama, who incorporates English discussion on Shakespeare as a sub-major in the School of Law, about how he plans his lessons.

*Faculty Development..General term for the systematic approach of faculty to improve lesson content and delivery.

Planning lessons with a balance of language education and literary culture in mind

Tetsuhito Motoyama
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law

Linguistics and literature necessary as a base and culture

In my lessons I aim to have the students acquire language skills and literary culture by introducing classical literature, especially Shakespearean works. Students read the original Shakespeare piece and hold discussions in English on the various themes depicted in the works. The students who take my lessons can be split into two distinct groups, students interested in literature and theatre, and students who aim to hold discussions in English. The works were written over 400 years ago, but there are also parts which are connected to issues surrounding students today, and to legal debate. There are many Shakespeare lovers in the U.S Supreme Court, to an extent where a Shakespeare circle has been organized.

Things that are important on top of providing high quality lessons

Course textbook which is also used overseas. A commentary is provided next to the main text.

There are two things I consider important in addition to providing lessons. One is to make the most of small classes with less than 10 students. In lessons held in large classrooms, it is difficult for students to convey their thoughts and receive feedback. But if there are small numbers, close communication can be maintained. In the lessons, one student summarizes a certain scene in the story, and then questions every other student using the content as a base, encouraging each other to exchange opinions. To achieve this, I have implemented the so-called "Socrates Method." There are also lessons in the Graduate School of Law in which I have adopted this method, so one of my aims is also to use this as practice for those. Students take the lead in the English discussions, questioning each other so they can understand the work, and while asking the other students their thoughts in regards to those responses, the discussions take a fixed course as to not stall the debate.

The other thing I am conscious of in my lessons is that the themes that appear in the pieces can be linked to current issues close to the students. For example, in "The Taming of the Shrew," a comedy we read in the first term, by picking out themes related to gender issues, such as love and marriage, students of today can feel familiar with the topic and can also create a lively discussion.

Striving for a balanced lesson

In order to conduct a high quality lesson, I put the most importance on balance. I plan lessons where both can be learnt in a well balanced manner without favoring linguistics or literature. That is the task I am currently tackling.

Gifts from students also line the shelf full of Shakespeare related books.

In that respect, as I stated before, I do not only devise ways to proceed with the lessons, but I also think of ways to have the students enjoy literature. One way is to take the students to the theatre every term, and give them the opportunity to come in contact with Shakespeare being acted out on the stage. This is because, by becoming aware of the differences between the images of the story they painted in their minds through my lessons and that of those on the stage, I want the students to gain an interest in drama. Actually, there are some students who have picked up an interest in literature and theatre after watching the stage performances

When the students head out to work, I don't think they will have many chances to read literature like Shakespeare. But, by creating opportunities while they are students, when they are confronted with a problem at work, they may look back at this time and think, "Shakespeare may have an answer." I am aiming to deliver lessons which provide education for that type of situation.

Tetsuhito Motoyama
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law

International Christian University Comparative Literature Research Master's degree, University of Birmingham Shakespeare Studies Master degree, International Christian University Comparative Literature Research Doctorate. Majors in Elizabethan drama. Full-time lecturer in the School of Law, Waseda University from 2004, and associate professor in the School of Law from 2007.