Why shouldn't Shakespeare be taught in schools? I would only like reasons for why it shouldn't be taught but I don't mind arguments for why is should be taught. Thanks.

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I just raised a similar question for a unit of study. More specifically, I voiced the opinion that society is so consumed with editing inappropriate content in the media, yet they do not consider some of the content in classic literature as inappropriate. Macbeth is a lot more violent and corrupt than some of the content on prime time television. In addition, Romeo and Juliet encourages teenagers to consider suicide as an answer to turmoil and conflict. Many religions look at suicide as a sin because the person is ending the life that God gave to them. Many religions proclaim that life is a gift from a higher source and that this gift should be cherished.

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Being a big Shakespeare fan, I have to disagree with the idea that the language is too difficult to understand. That's like saying it's useless to visit a foreign country because you won't understand ANYTHING you see, hear or experience. I sometimes don't understand teen slang that I overhear or experience first-hand, but it's no reason to close your mind to it. A helpful hint to better understanding Shakespeare that I used in college: I used a recording (on old LPs) to follow along with the play. Great actors like John Gielgud or Richard Burton or Laurence Olivier interpreting the characters made it a snap.

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The language is not always easily picked up, but that is NOT a reason to avoid teaching it.  That is a lazy, pitiful, and pathetic view.  If it were easy, any old fool could do it...challenge yourself to get the hang of the beauty of this language and then read all 37 plays!  The richness and wonder Shakespeare pours into every play is absolutely amazing. 

Remember that plays are all meant to be SEEN not read.  Watch the film in addition to reading it, think about the motives of the characters and how they are each feeling.  Think about how you would feel in similar situations and what you know that is like each scene, character, situation.  All of this will make your experience richer, not to mention that you will better understand the references made to Shakespeare in daily life--commericals, Bart Simpson, other cartoons, and even Star Trek.  Each allusion to Shakespeare will deepen your understanding of the situation in which the reference is made. 


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The question whether to teach or not to teach Shakespeare in school has to do with the outcomes you wish students to achieve in schools.

We teach Shakespeare for several reasons. One reason is that each industry will introduce a specific set of vocabulary, and it will often feel like a foreign language at the beginning of employment. This Old English study helps students by offering discomfort with language and then the support to work through it and build meaning. Another reason for Shakespeare is that you can just get the surface level meaning of a text and comprehend it, but he truly offers a level for the dirty minds in a classroom, the complex minds in a classroom, the fighters and the lovers. Thus, using Shakespeare helps teachers be able to differentiate their instruction. Finally, reading Shakespeare requires interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference, and a variety of complex higher level thinking skills. This cannot be done to the same degree with an ordinary text from American literature.

I would agree with you that Shakespeare is difficult to teach, but good teachers make it palpable and an experience that builds, not destroys skills. 

So, if you don't want to see students encounter great challenge in the literature classroom, if you don't want to expose them to defining literature of the Elizabethan Era or the precursor to the Renaissance Era, if you don't care to show them where the original drama came from, then please, take Shakespeare out of schools.

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I agree with all of the arguments put forward by the first answer.  I think the second answer shows why Shakespeare is still taught -- because English teachers think he should be.

Since I am not an English teacher, I agree that Shakespeare should not be taught, at least not in the original language.

In addition to all the things the first answer says, I think that it is not necessary to study Shakespeare in order to get the same messages about the "human condition."    I think there are plenty of works other than Romeo and Juliet, for example, that can tell us about love and hatred and star crossed lovers.

I do think that students should know something of the basic plots of various well-known plays, but only for reasons of cultural literacy.

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I would seriously rethink your position or retract your thesis.

If Shakespeare should not be taught in high schools, then many English curricula would have gaping holes and all students would be grossly underprepared for college.  Understanding Shakespeare is a mandatory right of passage for any academic.  He's the only author who was taught exclusively as part of my undergraduate degree.

Shakespeare the foundation of the department, of the language, of drama, of poetry.  He is not only taught in English classes, but also drama, film, public speaking, art, philosophy, and history.  In fact, his plays are mandatory reading at all levels in our school, even American Literature (Hamlet).  In fact, one Russian play director said Hamlet could sustain all the world's theaters for time immemorial if all other plays were lost.

It's like saying that Newton should not be taught in physics, when he founded nearly all the groundwork of the discipline.   Maybe Darwin shouldn't be taught in biology?   Or maybe Spanish shouldn't be taught in Spanish classes?

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