Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why Shakespeare?

My kids have been required to read at least one of Shakespeare's works during three out of the four years they've been in high school. Many of them have no idea why.

Today they are starting a project to determine why it is that they should care about reading the works of the Bard. We'll be doing some research, interviewing students and teachers around the building, talking with people in the community, and sending the question "Why Shakespeare?" out into the world via Twitter and other means. Then they'll work together to develop a showcase of the responses.

We'd love to get as many perspectives as possible and see how far our social media tools can spread the word. If you'd like to offer your thoughts, please feel free to comment here or post on Twitter using the hashtag #whyshakespeare.

Thank you!


  1. Is it sad that I can't give a finite answer? I don't think "because I love it" is a good enough reason...

  2. I don't think they should 'learn' Shakespeare. I have taught Literature for 30 years. I think they should 'experience' Shakespeare in one form or another. I also think that the age (intellectual) of the learner has a lot to do with how this should be done. Our Government has a credo that all should 'do' some Shakespeare - the best way to destroy any love of it you can have! Shakespeare's work is so so rich on so many levels that its like a buffet, people can take different things away at different times according to their palate and attitude. Is it the language use, is it the characterisation, is it the humour, is it the misery, is it the universality, is it the direction, is it the sets, is it the action, is it the actors, is it the interpretation?

    Watch it, with a sensitive guide if possible, and talk about your reaction to it... go back anew to it and you will see totally different things.

  3. Sorry, I have never come across a good reason. Other than the State says so. I will be following to see what others say. Interesting project. Good luck.

  4. I'm sick of teaching the stuff in my classes, for sure...but the next time I do, I'll ask the same question.

    The best answer I can come up with these days is to look at Shakespeare's effect on English, and what powerful implications that has...but I haven't tried that approach at all so I don't know how it would look or work.