Today my grandma asked what I was doing as I was trying to memorize "To Be or Not To Be" and I explained to her how I had less than 24 hours to memorize a 35 line soliloquy. Being my crazy grandma that she is, she started reading the soliloquy very dramatic, acting out every scene ridiculously. By the time we reached the end of the soliloquy I began to understand what he was actually saying rather than hearing a bunch of old shakespearean gibberish even though I still haven't memorized it. When my grandma came across words she didn't know, she made me look them up in a 10-pound-10 year-old dictionary that you'd only see in a 90s decade home. She also began to explain that the soliloquy was about sin as she pointed out words like "suffer, troubles, heartache, calamity of so long life, whips and scorns, cowards, etc.." and as she pointed out the words she also realized he was contemplating his actions and he was greatly troubled by something. As she was explaining what she believed it to mean my mind was blown that my 58 year old grandma whose highest form of education was 8th grade and knew absolutely nothing about Hamlet at all completely understood the basic point Hamlet was making, basically restating what Dr. Preston said in class today about the soliloquy, compared to majority of my classmates and I who were looking for the most prestigious interpretation(which was in some way a cliche correct answer but missed several key elements that could only be found by reading between the lines). This realization struck me with the thought that maybe the best way to learn is to actually think in basic terms as if we weren't fed all this "prestigious way of thinking" for 6 or so years in honors and AP courses, rather think as if we only knew the bare minimum and build onto that. From personal experience, I believe AP and honors classes set you at the top of a redwood tree and expect you to get down with tools we have no idea how to use. As next generation college students and leaders of America, I think it's essential to start at the base of the trunk and work our way up learning from our small slips rather than 20 foot free falls.
Despite my 12 years of schooling in AP and honors courses, I can honestly say my uneducated grandma was more knowledgable about Hamlet than I was.