The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0799  Monday, 18 September 2006

From: 		Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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 
during exams.

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 
theatre-based activities."

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 language.

"The National Curriculum programmes of study clearly specify that pupils 
should study a whole play by Shakespeare."

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