The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0799 Monday, 18 September 2006
Date: Saturday, 16 Sep 2006 12:29:05 -0700
Subject: No More Boring Bard, Pleads Royal Shakespeare Co.
'Boring' lessons putting pupils off Bard
PA News/Times Education Supplement, September 15, 2006
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) demanded an overhaul of the way the
Bard is taught in schools today, warning that children were being put off
for life by "boring" lessons.
The famous actors' company said too many children were denied the chance
to see Shakespeare's plays performed live and were limited to studying "a
script on a page".
The RSC's director of learning Maria Evans said children should perform
scenes themselves in class and undergo some kind of "practical" assessment
All pupils should have the chance to see at least one Shakespeare play
performed in full during their time at school, she said.
Writing in the Times Educational Supplement, Ms Evans said: "Stop your
average young person in the street, ask them what they think about
Shakespeare and 'Boring!' will be a fairly common response.
"Shakespeare remains the only writer studied by every young person in
Britain, but many leave formal education determined never to come into
contact with the Bard again."
Currently 11 to 14 year olds have to study Much Ado About Nothing, Richard
III or The Tempest.
But Ms Evans expressed concern over the way these plays are assessed -
through written tests on just two scenes of a play.
Not only does this mean that pupils are repeatedly focusing on the same
two scenes, but they study the lines in isolation from the rest of the
play, she said.
"Coming up with alternative means of assessment - such as introducing a
practical element to exams - is a key component of our campaign," she
"I believe passionately that all teaching should include some
A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "Shakespeare
is a vital part of our literacy heritage and always will be - it's vital
that pupils learn the great classics.
"The best teaching is based on a creative, in-depth approach leading to
understanding and this is what schools are already delivering.
"We have issued guidance to schools and teachers that Shakespeare should
be taught in an active, engaging way, focusing on the play as a piece of
drama, emphasising interpretation, thinking about the characters and how
they appeal to the audience, and considering the meaning and richness of
"The National Curriculum programmes of study clearly specify that pupils
should study a whole play by Shakespeare."
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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.