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...

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 ?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.



Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.


clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

lydiahallard | Student

I am a high school teacher and I think that students definitely need more time to pursue inquiry according to their own curiosity. If all students graduated high school knowing the joy of reading for personal interest, the world would be a better place. On the other hand, I think teachers should also expose students to challenging work, and to time-honoured masterpieces. Students should not sit around listening to each other butcher Shakespeare: language games, acting out, readers' theatre and other response activities, plus viewing different versions of scenes, open up enormous potential for discovery. Can this be done with other works? Yes. Do I think Shakespeare has a place in high school? Yes. The process of deciding what is relevant is the work of a lifetime. It is much more than a matter of employable skills and/or personal taste of the moment. It's possible to witness something important and not realize its importance for a long time. We do young people a terrible disservice by catering exclusively to current fashion.

chocolatekirby007 | Student

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.

zahoa001 | Student

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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