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Is Shakespeare still relevant in the classroom today? I am interested in your views. ...

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dalejo | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 16, 2011 at 10:44 PM via web

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Is Shakespeare still relevant in the classroom today?

I am interested in your views.  Should Shakespeare be taught in ALL schools to ALL kinds of children?  What relevance does he have in today's society?  If so ... WHY and HOW ?  If not ... why not... 

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 16, 2011 at 11:48 PM (Answer #2)

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Yes! Shakespeare is still relevant today. The amazing thing out the message of his work relies solely on the texts ability to withstand time. We can never stop teaching our students about the necessity to hold true to ones morality, facing the consequences of ones actions, or the nature of man. I believe that all of these "things" are important in the lives of our students. So what if the text is "old"? The fact that students can see that the issues that many of them face have been issues society has faced for centuries adds to the engagement and relation to the story.

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pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted August 16, 2011 at 11:58 PM (Answer #3)

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In my opinion, "relevancy" is not inherent to Shakespeare or to any other topic; relevancy is created by the art of teaching. A good teacher can make anything relevant to any student. For a topic to be considered relevant, it must resonate on some level within the student. Some material does this easily, because it lies close to the core beliefs and developmental issues of the average teenager - in other words, the topic happens to be something they were thinking about anyway. Almost anyone could teach material in this category successfully. For more removed topics, like Shakespeare, it takes a good teacher to help students see the connections between the material and themselves. That, I believe, is the distinction - a teacher who has personally embraced the topic can then weave a network of connections to help the student relate to the topic.

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bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted August 17, 2011 at 12:01 AM (Answer #4)

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I think Shakespeare should be taught today, to all types of students. If the language of it is too difficult, there are modernized versions or audio/visual aids that can help in understanding.

But Shakespeare IS still relevant because his themes are universal. Just look at West Side Story. Here are gang's in mid century America that are still struggling with intolerance and forbidden love. The story was just as powerful told in this musical as it was in the original Romeo and Juliet.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 17, 2011 at 12:04 AM (Answer #5)

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I don't think there is anyone to whom Shakespeare is not relevant. In the "hood" I taught about Romeo and Juliet. After all, that's the ultimate gang war. With younger kids I used to use more fanciful plays, but then we began a program where the whole school studies a different play each year. Everyone can get a little bit out of each.
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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 17, 2011 at 12:11 AM (Answer #6)

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Love and war are found throughout Shakespeare's plays, and all students can identify with these opposing ideas. A good pun is still enjoyed by most people, and the supernatural is a popular theme with today's youth. Shakespeare's language may be a bit tough for some students to interpret, but his subject matter is just as relevant today as ever.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted August 17, 2011 at 3:01 AM (Answer #7)

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Shakespeare is definitely still relevant today.  I also strongly agree with post 3 that a good teacher makes any material relevant.  But, I want to touch on a different point of the relevance of Shakespeare besides just the themes and ideas of his works.  I always used Shakespeare to teach the skill of interpreting literature.  This is an invaluable skill especially in today's multi-media world.  Students who learn how to deconstruct and understand the language of Shakespeare can understand almost anything they read.  I think the value of the material is in how it is used rather than the material itself.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 17, 2011 at 6:35 AM (Answer #8)

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It would take some doing for Shakespeare to become irrelevant because the basis for all his stories is human nature--our valor; our weaknesses; our youth; our agedness; our headlong passion; our reasoned choices; our behavior in war and love; our foolishness and courage; our identities; our power; our ability to make things better--or worse.

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted August 17, 2011 at 6:56 AM (Answer #9)

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I believe all students need to read Shakespeare. At our school, we teach Romeo and Juliet in ninth grade. We teach The Tragedy of Julius Caesar in the tenth grade. In eleventh grade, we teach American literature. In twelfth grade, we teach Hamlet and Macbeth. I have learned that the lower level students desire to be treated as any other students. They enjoy discussing the fact that "they" have to study that "difficult" Shakespeare. They love to complain about it. When the advanced students are talking about Shakespeare, my lower level to average high school students can at least relate. Shakespeare will always be relevant. He had such insight into human nature. Times may change, but Shakespeare is timeless. He understood what makes human nature what it is--never changing.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 17, 2011 at 9:00 PM (Answer #10)

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Yes, absolutely. I believe, like other editors, that all students, no matter what their educational level or background, can be introduced to Shakespeare. The depth of humanity that is evident in his works are truly impressive and need to be experienced by all people. I once taught a group of adults returning to education after having "failed" in the compulsory education system, and it was amazing how much they loved Shakespeare. Shakespeare has something to offer to all of us.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 20, 2011 at 2:26 AM (Answer #11)

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Absolutely!  In this way, the plays of Shakespeare (as well as his sonnets) remain universal.  The themes of love, ambition, revenge, ... even the racism in Othello can be tied to many aspects of our lives today.  We can see personal correlation.  We can see correlation to our national leaders.  So in answer to your question, yes, Shakespeare should be taught in all secondary schools.  (I also think it's possible to teach Shakespeare at the elementary level in a watered down sort of was, so as not to fly above the kids' heads with difficult language.)  No one can be considered "learned" in regards to Literature without knowing at least some of Shakespeare.

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losangeles12 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 28, 2011 at 2:46 AM (Answer #12)

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I believe that Shakespeare is one of the foundations of English Literature. While the language can be difficult at first, careful reading with a good teacher will reveal depth, with, human emotion, and fantastic writing. Because of the foundational aspect of Shakespeare's plays, and the references that so many other works of literature contain, I think Shakespeare is not only important but essential to the classroom.

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted September 28, 2011 at 11:33 AM (Answer #13)

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Every year my kids groan when we begin our Shakespeare unit. "This is boring!" "Why isn't it written in English?" "Do we have to?"  I've heard it all. But, by the end of the unit, the plays have become my students favorite texts of the year.  My freshmen read "Romeo and Juliet."  These kids are just beginning to think about what it means to truly love someone, so even the boys enjoy that part.  They also understand what it's like to go against your parents wishes.  Sadly, gangs are often a problem in our city, and the students relate to it as well.  I've seen big, burly football players grow solemn and be teary eyed at the end.  That's relevant!

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s4ukgp | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 7, 2011 at 4:49 PM (Answer #14)

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I am a writer of many articles on Shakespeare and his relevance in today's society. Still we can find Shakespeare everywhere, Talk about romantic advertisement and we will see that a girl standing on balcony and boy wooing her, that's a scene from Romeo Juliet. talk about tragedy, and the story Macbeth struck our mind, talk about comedy and "As you like it" still cant be surpassed. Teaching Shakespeare holistically develop students, and brings out best from them. Just one topic "Shakespeare" makes the student understand, what is Tragedy?, what is Comedy?, what is Romance?, what is History?, what is Love?. The character employed by Shakespeare in his play, if studied carefully by any student, will make their decision making capacity strong and further develop their personality.

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kathrynemorse | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:22 PM (Answer #15)

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Is Shakespeare still relevant in the classroom today?

I am interested in your views.  Should Shakespeare be taught in ALL schools to ALL kinds of children?  What relevance does he have in today's society?  If so ... WHY and HOW ?  If not ... why not... 

I believe Shakespeare should be taught to all. I have taught in a poverty level school for the last eight years and all of my students have read Shakespeare. There are great books with a plain English version with the original version on the opposing side, which gives the struggling student a chance to read it in a simpler form. The great thing is thay all must struggle a little to get it, creating a terrific classroom equalizer where everyone must work equally. Quite often, my students need some of it explained to them in an abbreviated plot so they can then fill-in the details.

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riot174 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted October 10, 2011 at 1:17 AM (Answer #16)

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I love Shakespeare. The thought of it not being taught in school in the next few years is horrible! It should stay like forever :)

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