When I first saw Defamation in October of 2011, I didn’t know what to expect from the play, or how it would impact my students. They were completely engaged in the play and actively participated in the jury deliberation and post-show discussion. Many students even shared personal experiences to help prove their points. The next day, my students had questions and opinions about the play that I had not anticipated. It was clear that DEFAMATION touched on subjects that they often thought about and clearly wanted to talk about in class. Our discussion that day was equally meaningful and animated. I discovered that DEFAMATION presented an incredible teaching opportunity to explore issues of class, race, religion and power with students in a way that I had never been able to do before.
In creating this study guide, I have attempted to create three different types of activities: a pre-viewing activity; a post-show discussion activity; and several different extension activities. All of these activities were created in hopes of providing ideas to educators and group facilitators on how to best utilize DEFAMATION to access the conversations that so many of the young people we teach want to have, but rarely do. There is also a great deal of flexibility built into these lesson ideas, allowing for educators to pick and choose or edit the suggestions. I wish you luck as you and your students examine DEFAMATION, which I know will be a powerful teaching tool for you.
Pankaj Sharma, Social Studies Teacher, Niles North High School, Skokie, IL