Today is the Ides of March. For many, it connotes a bit of unease or foreboding. After all, historically, this is the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of senators on the steps of the Roman forum. In Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, we see Caesar resisting his attackers until he realizes that his friend, Brutus, has raised a dagger against him. He utters the now famous, “Et tu, Brute?” and gives up.
Sorry Caesar, but for me, this is a day of warm memories of many middle school classrooms. In a career that spans decades, there aren’t many specific days that stand out, but March 15 was always a red letter day. I would distribute a brief prose account of Caesar’s death and excerpts from Anthony’s funeral oration from Julius Caesar. Betrayal of a friend, lots of blood, fortune tellers – this is prime middle school material!
Excitement was always high during that discussion. My hope was that they would remember a bit of that excitement when they went on to study Shakespeare as an academic pursuit. In any case, they would be familiar with the reference when they heard the term Ides of March, or the quote, “Et tu, Brute?”
Middle school is, as Charles Dicken’s once said, “The best of times and the worst of times.” It’s a world of noise and unchecked emotions, but it’s also a world of excitement and discovery. It was always fun to be able to tap into the discovery part. The memories of spending the Ides of March surrounded by sixth graders hearing the story for the first time always makes me smile.