Monday, September 18, 2006

In love with Shakespeare

Hear! Hear!

It's wonderful to see the Royal Shakespeare Company arguing that boring Shakespeare lessons are putting children off the bard for life.


What on earth is the point, for most children, of examining Shakespeare? Why teach it as a piece of literary criticism, dissecting it and analysing it? I can see that this is a useful skill for those who are going on to an academic study of English, but for most of us it merely means that we miss the joy of the thing until, if we're lucky, we rediscover it later in life.

My wife (www.safeground.org.uk) has used Shakespeare (and indeed Milton and the Greeks)with prisoners with the lowest possible levels of educational entertainment. They find it inspiring and immediately accessible and entertaining -- and this should be no surprise at all, as people like them who were in Shakespeare's earliest audiences. He seems to go down particularly well with black prisoners, because the blank verse raps.

The BBC article above ends with the usual your fatuous comments from the Department for Education etc. The curriculum is in a mess, and those in charge of steering it have let go of the tiller. More later.

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