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Should Shakespeare's plays be taught in schools? Why? Why not?Should Shakespeare's...

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kim-c | Student, College Freshman | eNoter

Posted March 12, 2010 at 12:00 AM via web

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Should Shakespeare's plays be taught in schools? Why? Why not?

Should Shakespeare's plays be taught in schools? Why? Why not?

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the-undisputed-champion | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 12, 2010 at 2:04 AM (Answer #2)

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Shakespeare is the greatest ever all-in-one English scholar who was a dramatist, a poet, a playwright so on. On the question of teaching Shakespeare in schools, I would admit that, in my opinion it should be and shouldn't be. As for the first, students who come to know of Shakespeare only in the higher classes are somewhat unable to cope with him, so, he should be taught even in the schools. As for the second opinion, Shakes is not only great because he had written a great deal, but also because he has always remained a difficult learning, and though he should be taught in the schools, his easier versions should be taught

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 12, 2010 at 4:46 AM (Answer #3)

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I think that the more exposure students receive in "L"iterature, the stronger the thinker they will become.  I cannot imagine a negative to the exposure to Shakespearean drama.  I believe that students can gain a great deal about the elements of literature through their exposure to Shakespeare.  Granted, it would be difficult, but students would be able to have moved farther when the bar is set for them at a high level than at a lower one.  Teachers might have to differentiate instruction and tailor make assessments and learning to the particular learner with such a complex body of work, but this practice cannot be seen as a bad thing when we have come to the understanding of the needs and demands of individual learners.

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missjenn | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 12, 2010 at 4:55 AM (Answer #4)

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Without a doubt I think Shakespeare's plays should be taught in schools. Yet, with that being said, I think appropriate plays should be taught to the appropriate grade level.

Shakespeare is like the Founding Father of Drama and English literature. His works are so vast and so diverse, they cover so many themes, contain history, fantasy, and numerous allusions. His plays are complex, he layered them with info and humor in order to appeal to both the ground-ings and the court. There literally is something for everyone in Shakespeare's work.

Also I think students should be exposed because his works have influenced so many things. "Ten Things I Hate About You," "West Side Story," and even a Taylor Swift song all owe Shakespeare a tip of the hat for being the catalyst of a great idea to their great projects.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 12, 2010 at 6:21 AM (Answer #5)

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I am very ambivalent on this issue.

I do not think that it is very useful to have to struggle with the antiquated language (from our perspective) used by Shakespeare.  It does not make a lot of sense to have to read what is in some ways a foreign language, even to native speakers of English.

However, Shakespeare is so famous that it is good to know various of his plays so that you can have some "cultural literacy."  And some of the story lines are pretty interesting in their own right.

Finally, I am not sure I see the point of teaching literature at all.  I am not at all sure we need literature to understand the "human condition."

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dstuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 12, 2010 at 9:21 AM (Answer #6)

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At its heart, literature is about ideas.  Studying or analyzing literature is about figuring out how those ideas are presented. 

The ideas presented in literature are too numerous to even attempt to list.  Shakespeare's writings contain more ideas than any other writer's works.  And those ideas are elaborated on better in Shakespeare's works than in any one else's works. 

Should Shakespeare's works be studied in school?  Of course.  To not study them is to risk missing out on idea after idea that help human beings become more aware of the human condition.

Narrative and drama and poetry reveal ideas in a way that nothing else can.  Essays, for instance, can present the same ideas, but not in the same way, and in some cases, not as effectively.  And essays, too, of course, are themselves literature.  History texts, etc., are literature.  Do we throw them out, too?  How are we supposed to learn?  Do we want our students to be ignorant?  Do we want to throw out all literature?  Are we begging to produce simplistic-minded humans?  Throw out all literature?  Are you serious?

Furthermore, human beings very much think in terms of metaphor, in terms of comparisons.  It's how our minds work.  What reaches our minds through our senses is compared to something else that we have previously learned, then filed.  Stories are multi-faceted metaphor.  We compare the contents of a drama, for instance, to what we already know of ourselves, others around us, the world.  We learn.  That's how we learn.  Shakespeare gives us the best stories.  Of course we should read him. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 12, 2010 at 6:20 PM (Answer #7)

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Clearly, literature IS history; it is the most accurate recordings of the human soul than any other writings, for historical recordings are often changed by the powers in charge.  For example we need only look at Russia's history which was altered tremendously after the advent of Lenin and those who followed him.

From Shakespeare, readers are exposed to the history of the English language and its beauty, as well.  This exposure teaches readers much (modern texts can be alongside of the other as an aid for younger students).  For instance, one understands why the British use certain words, and why isolated areas in the South of the US have still some of these archaic words in usage.  Studying Elizabethan English and the Old English of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales helps students in their studies of foreign language as they are exposed to conjugated endings on verbs, for one thing. 

Another benefit of reading Shakespeare's works is that readers learn valuable moral lessons.  The plays of Shakespeare reveal his acumen and incredible insight into the human heart.  Why, one can understand a modern president of tragic flaws such as Richard Nixon much better after reading of the tragic kings in Shakespeare's works. Indeed, readers learn much of life from literature.

In addition, readers understand better modern drama from having read Shakespeare, for many of the themes, motifs, characters in modern dramas and other forms of literature come from Shakespearean plays.  And, how many hundreds of titles of books and movies are taken from Shakespeare?

There is little question that Shakespeare's works are the primers for life; they are an intrinsic part of the English and American culture that has its roots in English. Harold Bloom, renowned critic, writes

Shakespeare will abide, even if he were to be expelled by the academics, in itself most unlikely.  He extensively informs the language we speak, his principal characters have become our mythology, and he, rather than his involuntary follower Freud, is our psychologist.

 

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 14, 2010 at 5:54 PM (Answer #8)

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Shakespeare should be taught in schools simply because he is the greatest writer ever in the English language. Because his language is difficult or "antique" in nature should not exclude his plays from schools. Certainly Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream are not too difficult to understand with some helpful assistance from the teacher. Most students will recognize the beauty of the verse and the creative storytelling in spite of the difficulty of 17th century language.

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teacherannette | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 19, 2010 at 6:39 PM (Answer #9)

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I just asked this question to my daughter who is now in University. Her first response was, "Uh, yes!" Then she went on to say, " Well for one thing knowing Shakespeare helps you understand references in almost every classic literary novel after him.Without reading shakespeare old english would probably be dead. Also its one of the easiest ways to learn iambic pantameter. "

She studied Shakespeare every year from 7th grade on. She read Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, Macbeth and Othello. She studied some of them multiple times. To this day Hamlet is one of her favorite plays.

Something to think about when coming from a student's perspective.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted October 22, 2010 at 7:06 AM (Answer #10)

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Absolutely. Shakespeare was a phenomenal writer for his time. The fact that we still discuss his writing indicates it should be taught as quality literature. Do we, however, have to teach all parts of all his plays, or is it okay to teach certain parts of some of them. Perhaps cutting some of them down and emphasizing certain aspects of them would make students more willing to learn Shakespeare.

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