Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Education
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0583  Tuesday, 27 February 2002

[1]     From:   Nancy Charlton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 11:46:10 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0568 Re: Education

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 16:04:24 -0500
        Subj:   How good are our educations?

[3]     From:   Al Magary <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 13:14:59 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0568 Re: Education

[4]     From:   Andy White <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 19:51:34 -0500
        Subj:   Education

[5]     From:   David Wallace <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 20:41:50 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0568 Re: Education


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nancy Charlton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 11:46:10 -0800
Subject: 13.0568 Re: Education
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0568 Re: Education

Fortunately for the cause of humane letters, there was in Shakespeare's
time no equivalent of, say, Latin for Teachers. There was Latin, period.
No bureaucracy of educationists running schools and school districts.

This is corollary to what Andy White notes:

>What's more,
>Shakespeare was not taught "Latin Appreciation," he was taught to use
>classical Latin as a model for his own Latin (and English) discourse.

Here in Oregon there was legislated a sweeping education reform that the
schools haven't quite caught up with, wherein every student is expected
to attain competency in certain areas and pass an exam to prove it. Part
of this is that students will become competent in a second language.  To
this end, the Portland school district has put together two multimedia
programs, Hola Hola in Spanish and Moshi-Moshi in Japanese.

I have chanced upon some of these lessons broadcast on cable TV, and
they are delightful. Reading, listening and speaking go on
spontaneously. They are well-acted and well- paced. They incorporate all
sorts of other learnings, such as customs in Japan and Mexico,
calculating date math, to think of some examples from the shows I've
seen. The actors are enjoying themselves and are engaged with the TV
audience and with the classroom audiences for whom the tapes are
intended.

But you go to their web site, and all this sprightly fun is damped by
lofty jargon-filled statements of purpose and listing of goals. It's
like pouring catsup on rare Chateaubriand. They can't seem to see that
they have a wonderful thing in these tapes, can't sit back and just let
spontaneous learning happen. Take a look at:

http:moshihola.org

And Andy, I hope you post your paper ASAP.

Nancy Charlton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 16:04:24 -0500
Subject:        How good are our educations?

Comparing education in the present with education in the past is fraught
with peril and easily leads to oversimplification. It's true enough that
one can compare a high school examination in 1900 with one today and
SEEM to see huge differences. But it is probably because of the
specificity of the curriculum then versus the general nature of the
SAT-9, now used in many states as an "exit" exam.  Hence, to us,
calculating the volume of an irregular three-dimentional shape looks
like rocket science compared to adding up a column of dollar bills and
change.

Or translating 20 lines of Virgil seems infinitely more challenging than
spotting a comma splice or fixing a fused sentence.  But what probably
happened 100 years ago is that the students who took the exit exam were
drilled over and over on calculating volume and ended high school with
Cicero, having translated all of Virgil during their junior year.
Moreover, only about 10% of the adult population got to finish high
school in America 100 years ago -- about the same proportion as those
who score 600 or higher on the old Scholastic Aptitude Test verbal
section before it was revised.

So comparisons are odorous, as someone once said in Shakespeare.
Remember, this is the first time in the history of the world that
America (and other democracies) have truly opened up college to 50% or
more of the population. It may turn out to be a great mistake. It may
end up that we need to go back to pre-GI Bill, where only 5% of the
population went to college, and only about 8-10,000 students attended
elite schools and then start to run the country.

But the evidence isn't all in yet. As for Shakespeare's own grammar
school education, it emphasized language and rhetoric in ways that are
foreign to us today and that make it seem like every class was full of
intellectual giants by our standards. But we have to be careful.  We
don't know how many students actually finished the curriculum or how
proficient they actually became. Nor do we now have the emphasis on
memory that was commonplace 400 years ago. Nor the respect for language
as a tool for advancement and as a measure of emerging nationalism.  In
the 50s, when nationalism became intertwined with math, science, and
engineering education, Americans excelled in all three areas.

One more point: a student who scored 100 on an IQ test 100 years ago
would score less than 85 today (The "Flynn effect").

Food for thought.

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 13:14:59 -0800
Subject: 13.0568 Re: Education
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0568 Re: Education

Paul Doniger wrote,

> Is it really so hard for any adult to "learn" the names of the six
> longest rivers in the world? Is this the sort of thing we want our
> children to focus on in schools, or would we rather have them developing
> the skills to become curious life-long learners? Wouldn't it be best to
> help them to develop their abilities to read, write, listen, speak, and
> think? Memorizing the names of rivers won't do much for any of these
> skills.

Read, write, listen, speak, and think about what?  Knowing about the
great rivers, beginning with their names and locations around 3rd grade,
is essential to the study of both history and geography.  It's called
content.  Without it, a learning structure is form with little function.

But the writer sets up a false dichotomy, that education must be either
rote learning of facts, or learning to read, write, listen, speak, and
think.  It would be a bad school that doesn't do both.

Al Magary

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andy White <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 19:51:34 -0500
Subject:        Education

Although I agree with Paul Doniger that it is all too easy for
conservatives in the US to trash public education, the fact remains that
our education system has very low expectations of all its students.
There is a recent book on this subject (the author and title escape me
at the moment), by a woman who quotes some of American education's
leading lights as evidence that public education was designed for the
lowest common denominator.

Hence, the lack of access to any language other than English in Grade
School, except as a before-or-after-school luxury.  In the US, children
don't have access to foreign languages as a regular part of their
curriculum until they are in their teens -- by which point their ability
to acquire languages is severely stunted.

Compare this situation with Europe's, and consider the situation many of
us find as travelers, when we arrive at the local Youth Hostel and are
surrounded by teenagers who can not only speak good English, but at
least 2-3 other languages besides.

Could anyone enlighten us on the current standards on language education
in the UK?

Andy White

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Wallace <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002 20:41:50 -0800
Subject: 13.0568 Re: Education
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0568 Re: Education

Andrew Walker White writes,

> We who live in a linguistic monoculture cannot begin to fathom the
> effect that a grade-school education, conducted almost exclusively in a
> foreign language, can have on one's grasp of language.  What's more,
> Shakespeare was not taught "Latin Appreciation," he was taught to use
> classical Latin as a model for his own Latin (and English) discourse.
>
> Compare that with our own paltry grade-school system, which (in the US
> at least) teaches English alone, and which offers classics of English
> literature not as models for imitation, but as useless artifacts to be
> read, enjoyed and then put back on the shelf where they (allegedly)
> belong.  Americans are great believers in second languages, but only so
> long as that second language is English and the benighted heathen who
> doesn't know it yet learns fast.

I'm sure Shakespeare received a rigorous education but I'm uncertain how
one can measure the benefits he derived from his prolonged studies in
Latin. Quite a few (forgotten) Latin dramas were being penned while
Shakespeare toiled in the vernacular. Better (Latin) educated
playwrights produced less luminous plays. One might be tempted to
speculate that a few good writers saw their talents more hindered than
helped by an education that placed such an emphasis on Latin.

That Shakespeare was obliged to study Latin more than a millennium after
the Roman conquerors had withdrawn strikes me as... well... a little
odd. That he may have been grateful for the experience of learning the
(dying) language of a defunct empire strikes me as a trifle perverse.
That he wrote so eloquently in his native tongue strikes me as a case of
The Empire Strikes Back.

English (only) speaking Americans may possess the arrogant attitude you
describe. But if this is so, it may be because English has assumed the
stature that Latin once enjoyed. If this is the case, then the
"benighted heathen" ought to be suitably grateful.

Cheers! David Wallace

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.