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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: July ::
Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1427  Wednesday, 14 July 2004

[1]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 08:23:52 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

[2]     From:   Arthur Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 21:21:27 +0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

[3]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 10:40:59 -0400
        Subj:   Harold Bloom on teaching Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Susan St. John <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 10:30:30 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

[5]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 11:15:41 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

[6]     From:   David Crosby <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 14:35:41 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 08:23:52 -0400
Subject: 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

That was Bloom writing, not me.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 21:21:27 +0800
Subject: 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

Of course, Richard didn't write that; Harold Bloom did.   Otherwise, I'm
in general agreement with Bill Arnold's complaints about the state of
education.  By the way, the list of "people ... who have read less than
four books in their lives" prominently includes President Bush.  Before
he becomes a role model for our children, I'd suggest voting him out of
office at the earliest convenience, which fortunately will come around
in a few months.  "44 in '04!"

Regards,
Arthur Lindley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 10:40:59 -0400
Subject:        Harold Bloom on teaching Shakespeare

In his own inimitable way, Bill Arnold writes:

"OK: once they can *read* and *write* then they'll take interest in your
esoteric stuff.  Listen, I know so-called *educated* adults who pass us
in the real world all the time who have read less [sic] than four books
in their lives.  Ask around, it's an interesting statistic!  Call that
*society*?  Call our system *educational*?"

Look: teacher bashing is about as far from the real issue raised by
Richard Burt as you can get. Adlai Stevenson never read a whole book in
his adult life - he just acted like he did. And nobody can tell me he
didn't receive the best education money could buy. Richard is right:
it's a real mystery why some fall in love with reading and others do
not. I fear that the answer lies in the genes. Just as some have a
natural affinity for music and can never get enough of it, so some have
a basic inclination to read and will do it no matter what. Others will
not, and no one, no matter how good a teacher, will make a life-long
reader out of some. They just don't like it. As for proof, I had a
college roommate who majored in Math (and he was good at it, too!) who
told me that he hated to read even the morning paper. The reason: he
said it "hurt" him to read. He just hated the effort and the whole process.

On the positive side, lots of kids read a lot; they just don't read what
we want them to. Hasn't it always been thus?

Ed Taft

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan St. John <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 10:30:30 -0700
Subject: 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

A goodly portion of the population hates, doesn't understand, and
refuses to do math.  Yet we have lots of engineers, physicists, and
other mathematicians in the world.  Bill, I don't think you can blame
*Education* for some people preferring one subject over another.  You
claim that "Computers are used by youths for downloading music and
games."  Although true, this does not preclude the ability to read.  My
son is 11 and a video-game junkie...but he is also off the charts in
reading (and math); when forced away from the Nintendo he will always
have a book in his hand.

My brother is highly intelligent, knows how to read and did
exceptionally well in school, but rarely read a novel until he was over
30.  Probably never read a play, but went to see hundreds of them...and
he likes them and understands them.  Of my two older brothers and
myself, all of whom received essentially the same US public school
education, one is a lawyer, one an engineer and one a drama teacher...we
each have our preferences.  I happen to have a "fundamental passion for
books" and my brothers don't.

Bill Arnold presents this scenario as an excuse for a lack of love for
reading:

 >Ever been in a first-or-second grade classroom as a teacher?  I
 >have.  Ever seen their texts?  God-awful!  And the tests, multiple
 >choice?  God-awful.

And yet many of the students who come out of that educational system DO
love to read.

The bottom line for we-lovers-of-Shakespeare is that there are some
people in the world who simply are NOT.  You can't blame it on their
education.  Sure, as a teacher I hope to sway all of my students over to
'our side', but I accept the fact that some of my students already love
Shakespeare, a few will be enlightened, and some will never enjoy his
particular genius.  And I do not teach with "god-awful texts" nor
multiple-choice tests (well, not exclusively anyway).

I realize that my anecdotal evidence is not as convincing as statistics
would be, but Bill's arguments simply do not hold up against my personal
experiences.

Susan.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 11:15:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

I'm not sure that accusing the education system is the answer. Yes,
there are many flaws in it, but there is a larger problem lying behind
it all. Harold Bloom is a bit out of control for advocating the removal
of computers from our lives either. This particular piece of technology
enriches lives as well. A lot of things have contributed to the downturn
of reading amongst the general public and television is a large factor
in this. The problem is that there are many factors to point the finger
of blame at and they are symptomatic of a larger societal tendency
towards the visual over the verbal. This trend is visible in many
aspects of our lives: commercial advertising and packaging, film and
television, and yes, education to name a few.

  "We haven't yet found an adequate way to explain it and,
frankly, I'm not sure that even education can affect it."

Unfortunately, I have to sadly agree with this statement. Education will
fail if it is the only factor trying to stem the tide. But I think
education must also allow for some allowances as far as our visual
culture is concerned and combine the two in a way that stimulates
interest in both. I can't say that I have the solution but I certainly
know that it is naive to point the finger purely in the direction of
educational systems. I've always felt that one of the best stimuli
towards a passion for the written word is parental involvement from an
early age. Read to your children. Get them involved with the thrill of a
story or the turn of a phrase. It worked for me. And my parents didn't
attend a single college course in their entire life.

Brian Willis

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Crosby <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 2004 14:35:41 -0500
Subject: 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1419 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

Heaven protect us! Bill Arnold has come over to the ranks of the
permissive progressive educationists:

 >OK: you *want* readers and writers?  Start them reading and writing
 >about stuff they are interested in: themselves.  Start with notebooks
 >filled with themselves, their friends, their interests, and throw all
 >the mass-produced, mass-selected, mass-marketed texts in the wastebasket.

Enlightenment, however late arriving, is always welcome. Thanks, Bill,
for setting everyone straight on this one.

All the best,
Dave

P.S. Tell me, Bill, where are these starting notebooks to come from?

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