Shakespeare turns off students

When I was teaching English in the Los Angeles Unified School District, there were two things that always elicited moans from students: studying Shakespeare and grammar (“The Case Against Shakespeare,”, Mar. 31).  Since both were part of the curriculum, I had little choice but to teach both.

I must admit that I failed in both cases. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried to make both relevant, my efforts were futile.  I’m glad that when I was in high school my teachers were more successful.  But that was in a different era. 

Today’s students are exposed to images and subjects that my generation never were.  As a result, I can understand why Shakespeare and grammar are so unpopular.  Yet I wonder if teachers today still don’t have a responsibility to teach both.

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2 Replies to “Shakespeare turns off students”

  1. No, it does not. It requires creativity and thought and some hard work from the teacher but turn kids off? No.

    I treasure Shakespeare and I know that there are at least a few ex 11th graders at Gulf Breeze High School in Florida who will never forget the bloody sleepwalking scene from Macbeth.

    Blood. Sex. Murder. What more could a teenager want?

    And also, they had to learn the first 14 lines from Chaucer’s intro to the Canterbury tales in Middle English. That even got the parents involved.

    On this subject, I think you have to think about the fact that you are asking parents to dumb down their expectations for their kids and while it may be true, it isn’t going to fly, not yet.

    Maybe you could think about writing something that acknowledges that.


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