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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: July ::
Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1446  Friday, 16 July 2004

[1]     From:   Pat Dolan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 08:18:44 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1437 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 06:23:34 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1437 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 12:42:49 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 15.1427 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 08:18:44 -0500
Subject: 15.1437 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1437 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

On Jul 15, 2004, at 6:41 AM, Bill Arnold wrote:

 >Bright students can move on, and those who have
 >weaknesses in their skills can be red-lined, noted, by prof and student,
 >and they too can move on at their own pace.  If such a methodology began
 >in grammar school we would have readers and writers at an earlier age.

I realize this isn't Shakespeare, but I can't let it go unchallenged.

I can think of no better way to make a person stop writing than to 1.
Force him/her to write and then 2. Punish his/her errors.

It would, however, convince the child that writing is simply a matter of
grammar and spelling. (I assume that the teacher occasionally attends to
the meaning of what's written, but it's not in the formula. Nor is
positive reinforcement for doing things right, especially thinking well
on the page.) This would be inconvenient if, later, we wanted to show
the person the worth of reading Shakespeare, whose spelling was
notoriously unstable and whose solecisms abound. (We argue all the time
about what we imagine motivated Shakespeare to write. I'm 100% sure he
didn't write to avoid errors.)

I think having students, especially beginning writers, keep a journal is
a wonderful idea. I think Bill Arnold is correct to suppose that doing
it young helps them become engaged writers and readers, but unless I'm
misreading him, he and I diverge on when, where and how teachers should
attend to grammar.

Cheers,
Pat

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 06:23:34 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1437 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1437 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

Bruce W. Richman writes, "Six letters in this thread today, without so
much as a single mention of Shakespeare.  Generic grumblings about the
state of world literacy can find audience in cigar stores, pool halls,
and taverns on every street corner. Could we please, please, reserve
this site for advanced and sophisticated contributions to world
Shakespeare scholarship?"

OK: Shakespeare it is.  Up front.  But Sir, I am pleased as punch you
are *not* Hardy and Hardy does not share your views.  Inasmuch as
SHAKSPER has a millennium and a half followers, it behooves us to answer
the title of this thread, "Teaching Shakespeare, etc." and I assure you
*etcetera* means *a lot*!

OK: when I was a youngster growing up on Martha's Vineyard, our
Pulitzer-Prize winning Vineyard Gazette editor Henry Beetle Hough had an
Emily Dickinson poem about reading above the Masthead of the Letters to
the Editor column.  And, yes there was poetry above the front-page
banner by every poet in the world, including Will Shakespeare.  You
might say I was an elitist kid, because he published something I wrote
when I was twelve.  Imagine: Bill Arnold was a published author and
journalist as a child.  Maybe that is why I am still a child at heart.

OK: the point is clear, is it not?  If children were taught to read and
write what they thought about, their own thoughts, from day one, then by
the time they reached frosh classes they wouldn't be still reading and
writing at eighth-grade level.  If that is not the fault of education
systems and their administrators and teachers and the parents en masse,
then who is to blame?  Under whose rug do you wish to sweep this thread?

OK: you want people to keep Shakespeare taught in the schools [and not
just for "sophisticated" elitists like you suggest SHAKSPER should be
aimed at], then you must have students who can read and write.  And the
elitists among us must wake up, as we are producing a world class of
eight-grade level readers and writers graduating our school systems.
And the majority of them have a difficult time as frosh readers and
writers.  So, how can you teach THAT majority Shakespeare?  And if you
doubt my take on the notion of *majority*, then you need to check the facts.

Go ahead, TEACH some frosh classes!

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 12:42:49 -0400
Subject: Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc
Comment:        SHK 15.1427 Harold Bloom on Teaching Shakespeare, etc

Let's not get sentimental. Most of Shakespeare's original audience -the
people who made the plays possible-- never read a book in their lives.

T. Hawkes

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