The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0551  Thursday, 8 March 2001

From:           Sam Small <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Mar 2001 19:50:45 +0000
Subject: 12.0439 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0439 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye

Not being particularly right-wing I am still not a big fan of the Blair
government in the UK, but it is with interested glee that I read that
the mandatory study of a brace of Bard plays may be dropped from the UK
national curriculum.  As an ex-teacher, and more recently, experience as
a drama teacher, I can say that the absence of Shakespeare from schools
would be a blessing that most young students would thank us heartily
for.  Poetic metaphor is the language of mature adults with a
substantial emotional memory.  Shakespeare, like many other marvellous
artists, was older and far wiser than his years.  Absorbing poetry is an
act of reflection; of taking a deep breath to look at the world
differently than yesterday; of rightly positioning ourselves in this
terrifying universe.  Children, as with most teenagers, have neither the
emotional ability nor the inclination to do any of this.  They live for
the material moment; death is impossible; things and people are either
right or wrong.

But English teachers will forever arm themselves with a Shakespeare
playbook in the subconscious Puritan desire to immunize their charges
against soaps, websites, action movies and all other horrible
configurations of English words.  In their frantic desire to propagate
their life's desire they swing from plot studies to analogies to
re-writes to choreography to stage brawling - even painting and
drawing.  And all the time the poetry - the simple, staggering poetry -
goes wanting.

We don't need Shakespeare in schools.  He is in and around us
everywhere.  He changed western thinking.  Through his poetry we found
ourselves - the poor, be-trodden individual struggling to make sense of
this wicked world - as all children will one day become.


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