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Why should shakespeare plays not be taught in High Schools?I am doing a debate with a...

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couturexoox | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:43 PM via web

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Why should shakespeare plays not be taught in High Schools?

I am doing a debate with a couple of my class mates. I have searched the web for many diffrent reasons why it should not be taught in high schools and there is more reasons about why it should be taught. ANY HELP ?

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

Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:18 PM (Answer #2)

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There are several reasons why Shakespeare should not be taught in high schools.  Here are a few:

  1. It’s violent.  (I defy you to find a play without some violence)
  2. There are mature sexual themes.
  3. The language is old-fashioned and difficult for kids to understand.
  4. Plays are meant to be performed, not read.

Sometimes it's helpful to just look around the internet and get some ideas.  Here is a site with many viewpoints.  Remember, this is not a credible site to use as evidence, but it's to get you thinking.


On the Pro side, you could include examples of how Shakespeare can be reimagined.  Here is an article about Shakespeare taught with technology.


Here is an enotes discussion on whether or not Shakespeare is relevant today.


Here is another debate about why it should not be taught in schools.



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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:57 PM (Answer #3)

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The main argument that you can make is that it's not really giving you anything that other stuff could not give you.  There are plenty of other pieces of literature that give you the same life lessons and insights into the human condition without being written in such archaic and difficult to understand language.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 21, 2012 at 1:40 PM (Answer #4)

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I agree with post 3. If you want to establish a strong debate argument, you could easily take all the points on your opponents side and suggest something other than Shakespeare that could be taught in its place, that would provide the same benefit.

Difficult to fight against Shakespeare, as he's sort of the "god" of many things literary, but just because he pioneered so many outstanding trends in writing and acting, doesn't mean others have not come after him who have done it just as well.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 23, 2012 at 10:46 PM (Answer #5)

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The modern classroom is all about being relevant and meaningful to students.  Most students would agree that Shakespeare does not feel very relevant to them; the language is out-dated and difficult.  Like the above post mentioned, many comparable, more accessible works with similar themes could be used to replace any of Shakespeare's plays. 

You could also argue the time constraint of teaching Shakespeare in the classroom.  This is a real difficulty that many teachers face; because his works are so involved and higher level, they naturally require more time spent on them in the classroom.  In the modern classroom with shorter periods and more emphasis on state testing, many teachers find themselves hard-pressed to carve out enough time to address the Bard properly.


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mwalter822 | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted September 24, 2012 at 10:17 AM (Answer #6)

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You could most effectively argue that it should not be taught because the language is just too arcane for students to understand. I love Shakespeare, but teaching it requires spending a lot of time simply translating it. It's probably not the most effective use of high school English time.

I prefer to have the class do a lot of "watching" Shakespeare and just a little reading when we do Romeo or Caesar or Macbeth.

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zahoa001 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:55 AM (Answer #7)

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Personally, I do find Shakespeare relevant and am extremely glad that his plays are part of most high school syllabuses. I think he has a way of making his themes universal which makes it impossible not to relate to him. His texts are not, for me, exclusive to his characters but are applicable to the audience or reader. I think that, contextually, it is also important to study him in the sense that he was ahead of his time in terms of feminist or psychoanalytical theory. It is clear that he had an uncanny understanding of the human mind and I think it is relevant to study him perhaps as an influence to later critical theories and writers.

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chocolatekirby007 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:28 AM (Answer #8)

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I totally agree with the previous post. In addition, Shakespeare has helped me understand many current situations and his works helped me learn to delve deeper into the meaning of different texts.


I think Shakespeare is a must for the high school curriculum.

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