SHAKESPEARE: IS HE NECESSARY TODAY?

#Shakespeare #Education #Literature #Drama
Many of us have read something William Shakespeare has written.
Some love him. Some hate him. Certainly, though his language is pure, it’s not always easy to understand. We certainly don’t talk like that in daily conversation.
For many of us, he was required reading at some point in our education. Today, however, a debate is raging over not only whether he is relevant to today’s world, but whether, in the name of diversity, he’s just another dead white guy.
Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis had this very debate in a column they wrote together. It was published in the June 21, 2015, edition of the News Sentinel of Knoxville, Tenn.
Boychuck is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Mathis is associate editor of Philadelphia Magazine.
In Boychuk’s view, if a teacher can’t make violence, murder, insanity, greed, witchcraft, betrayal and other elements of Shakespeare come alive in the classroom, he or she is probably in the wrong job. Some of us, when studying Shakespeare or performing in one of his plays, could hurdle what language barrier there was – his old-time English and modern English.
Mathis, however, had the benefit of translation pages when he studied Shakespeare in school. Were it not for those, he says, he may not have survived that course.
“There’s a WORLD of really exciting literature out there that better speaks to the needs of my very ethnically diverse and wonderfully curious, modern-day students,” says Dana Dusbiber, a teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif. She told in a Washington Post column that she hates teaching Shakespeare.
Boychuk and Mathis refer to her column in their column.
If any student’s education is devoid of Shakespeare, how would they know that centuries ago, people actually talked and wrote that way.
On the other hand, many of today’s students have English as a second language. Do they need literature whose English is a bit more basic, to better master their second language?
The Boychuk-Mathis column points out that plays are best seen performed than read. Very few other playwrights get the attention in school that Shakespeare does. Perhaps that’s because Shakespeare is special, and, as the column points out, many of the phrases used today originated with Shakespeare, i.e. “there’s the rub,” it’s Greek to me,” to thine own self be true.”
No matter how one feels about what and how we teach kids, it’s clear that kids need a well-rounded education. They need to learn the niceties as well as the evils of today’s and yesterday’s world.
They need to be able to communicate clearly, to talk so as to be universally understood, to sell themselves to a prospective employer or client. A smattering of Shakespeare can teach them a good bit of how the language was formed and modernized.
Also, they need to develop a great image of themselves. How do you feel about yourself? Are you still looking for who you really are, or are you having to change things up to thrive in today’s world. If so, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Many of those whom you will see may, or may not, be Shakespeare fans, but they’ve certainly learned that their curiosity has paid great dividends.
Studying the Bard may be hard, but he has many lessons to teach.
Peter

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