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Should Shakespeare Be Taught In Today’s Schools?

Veronika Rimer, Section Editor

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Imagine young high school students waking up every morning dreading their first period English class. They experience anxiety and fear knowing that difficult questions will be asked in class about a four hundred year old play that they do not understand and are not interested in. Palms begin to sweat when called on to answer an unknown question about a very complex Shakespearean text. Not knowing the answer, leads to frustration and failure. Incomplete homework assignments begin to arise as their grades begin to sink causing them to believe in failure and to give up because the text is too complex. 

Shakespeare should not be required in twenty first century high school classrooms simply because it is too advanced and the language used is outdated. For many students, Shakespeare’s writing is not interesting and is very hard to understand. Rajat Bhageria, a writer for the Huffington Post, stated, “Truly, forcing students to do something in which they have so little interest will most probably result in students not reading or contemplating.” If students do not enjoy what they are reading, they will not want to learn, and will have a very hard time understanding the importance of the text. It is very hard for teens to relate back to a story that was written four hundred years ago. For many reasons, modern day authors such as J.K. Rowling, James Patterson, and Joe Hart should be analyzed and read in classrooms. Though the language is not as complex as Shakespeare, they can deliver other skills in a more modern and relatable way. The stories written by these authors can have a bigger impact on students because they can relate to today’s entertainment and society.

For hundreds of years, Shakespeare has been taught in schools. Meaning it has been in the curriculum in hopes of advancing reading and writing skills. According to Rafael Heller, a P.H.D student, “…literacy skills of the American teenager haven’t improved since the 1970’s.” Maybe we need to re-examine the curriculum, and change the requirements for what books are to be read in class. The best option would be to require texts that are around students’ average reading levels. Reading texts in students’ current reading level will help build stronger understanding and deep thinking skills. Being able to read and understand a book can boost confidence and make them feel like they are learning and advancing their skills. Students will be willing to read due to the fact that they are able to do it without being overwhelmed with the complexity of the text. They will also have more motivation to read because they won’t have to deal with too many advanced complications. Bhageria also stated, “We cannot expect different results by continuing the same curriculum.” Figuring out new ways to boost reading skills will not hurt anything. It can either lead to the same or better results.” Though, it will never be known unless it is done.

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Should Shakespeare Be Taught In Today’s Schools?