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Politics Should "classics" be taught in schools?



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Should they be taught?

  • Yes

    Votes: 11 100.0%
  • No

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    11

Soldier

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Hello,

Now this thread was a thought I had one day when glancing through some of my work from high school, more specifically, a report on William Shakespeare's "The Tempest". For those who don't know, it's about a wizard who has a slave and a daughter on an island, brings a royal ship to the island, and hijinks ensue. If that premise sounds exciting, it isn't, and hasn't been for hundreds of years in my opinion. I don't know how common this is in places outside the U.S, but they do this in America A LOT. And let me tell you, Shakespeare's work hasn't aged well, the old english might as well be a foreign language at this point because even his "humorous" works have lost all their comedic potential as common speech evolves. There was a "widow ditto" joke in The Tempest that no one understood, and the book we had explained it in a lengthy footnote.

I should probably phrase this thread with a bit more clarity, as some classics I'm actually fine with. Tom Sawyer, for example is recent enough to the point where any english speaker can read it and understand a good 85% of it. But books like Shakespeare that require internet access to decode their meaning constantly are on the chopping block today. What do you all think?
 

Willow A113

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Hello,

Now this thread was a thought I had one day when glancing through some of my work from high school, more specifically, a report on William Shakespeare's "The Tempest". For those who don't know, it's about a wizard who has a slave and a daughter on an island, brings a royal ship to the island, and hijinks ensue. If that premise sounds exciting, it isn't, and hasn't been for hundreds of years in my opinion. I don't know how common this is in places outside the U.S, but they do this in America A LOT. And let me tell you, Shakespeare's work hasn't aged well, the old english might as well be a foreign language at this point because even his "humorous" works have lost all their comedic potential as common speech evolves. There was a "widow ditto" joke in The Tempest that no one understood, and the book we had explained it in a lengthy footnote.

I should probably phrase this thread with a bit more clarity, as some classics I'm actually fine with. Tom Sawyer, for example is recent enough to the point where any english speaker can read it and understand a good 85% of it. But books like Shakespeare that require internet access to decode their meaning constantly are on the chopping block today. What do you all think?
I think some classics should continue to be taught in schools because a lot of them are amazing, and if they're not taught, they'll be lost to time, which would be sad. But there are plenty of books no one likes or cares about and those shouldn't be taught. If the entire classroom doesn't care if it's lost to time, it should be lost to time imo. I think schools should have a balance. (American) Schools seem to have a strange obsession with old books. Most seem against teaching a book that's less than 70 years old. Why? It's not like literature has gotten worse in the years after. New books are just as good as old books and they should be taught just as much as the classics. I can just imagine a teacher telling the class "this month we're reading Harry Potter", and the classroom is cheering because they're excited they're finally getting something interesting. Students would do better if they learn about something they want to learn about, anyway.
Thanks for listening to reading my rant. You're not the only one who's bothered by this. I have no idea how to end this, so... yeah...
 

AdrianXXII

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I feel the classics do have their place, there's a reason people like to return to Shakespeare works, but how they are approached should probably be changed.
With how language changes over time it might make sense to keep the actual books and writings for later years, but expose kids to retellings earlier on. I just think it's worth exposing people to works through out the ages so you can kind of see how they built up upon each other. Exposing people to these works also create a common reference pool, which can be useful when consuming other media.

That said having kids read and discuss more contemporary work does make more sense considering it probably speaks to them more and they might be more interested in reading it. The main goal especially in the early years is to get the students to read.
 

Absent

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Depends what “taught” means. I think a good reason why a lot of Americans, especially those in underprivileged circumstances hate reading is because they’re forced to read something. And more often than not, despite those stories having timeless lessons they can be hard to relate to. Because when you make reading a chore or something overwhelming, it can have the opposite effect that teachers want.
Idk because how can you teach the classics without actually reading them?
God this thread reminded me that I hated every single story/book in my public education life. Had I not discovered online forums and fan fiction, I would have never approached reading ever again as a hobby.
 

Vulpes XIII

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They should continue to teach all different types of classic literature in school in order to keep the history of literature alive as if schools stop teaching them they will eventually become lost to time.

I honestly wouldn’t of minded getting to study more classics at school since at my school, in terms of classics I only ever got to study one William Shakespeare book and that wasn’t until the last year of High School. So honestly it was actually very easy in my High School to go through school without ever reading one of the classics as it was up to the teacher which text you study and a lot of them didn’t seem like they wanted to spend the year analysing Shakespeare so would make us study a few short stories and poems instead.
 
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Robert.Rowe

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I recently began reading a manga version of Hamlet. It has all the original text but it's drawn in a manga style. I actually had a lot of fun reading it and decoding each line was even enjoyable. Though if I were reading it as a play I would hate it.
Very unexpected! Shakespeare and manga ... Can you share a link?)) But I am inclined to believe that classical literature is the pinnacle! Acquaintance with the classics gives us the basics of understanding life. Yes, it happens that a classic work is not immediately clear))) It's good that for such cases there are different resources, such as eduzaurus, where you can find explanations or interpretations of different works of literature. And in my studies it helped me more than once)))
 

Max

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This is tough. I read some classics in school I enjoyed and I think some definitely still have their place, like The Outsiders and To Kill a Mockingbird, even the Great Gatsby. But Shakespeare is a harder sell not only for having such difficult and outdated language, but for having themes that I think are much harder to relate to the children reading them.

I have a bachelor's in English, and even I have a hard time understanding why some things like Shakespeare are pushed so hard on the public school system outside of preservation and maybe seeing what kind of writings got us where we are today/maybe influenced writings of today (or influenced stories that influenced stories in some cases). But even then, I think there could be different ways to approach it. Gosh, I don't know. It's not that I see no value in Shakespeare, but I think I see less value and value for different reasons in it than I do in stories like the other books I mentioned.

I think maybe when it comes to Shakespeare, it could be better as a focused study for a college student if they're interested in it. I think it could be introduced in public schools in some capacity without being made as big of a chore as it is, and then delved into more at the collegiate level.

Something else I find weird is that at my university I attended specifically, the senior thesis papers that had to be like, 20 pages varied in subject depending on which professor was working with the seniors that year. Some professors wanted to do works from Mark Twain or the like. I got stuck with the Shakespeare obsessed teacher and had to write about The Taming of the Shrew and Othello. Which was awful. I hated it, didn't care for Othello at all, Shrew was a little better, but I wished I could have put my time and energy into something I cared about instead. I just find it funny that in this case, what was taught and required to submit research on was based on what the professor enjoyed rather than on some universal criteria.
 

Soldier

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This is tough. I read some classics in school I enjoyed and I think some definitely still have their place, like The Outsiders and To Kill a Mockingbird, even the Great Gatsby. But Shakespeare is a harder sell not only for having such difficult and outdated language, but for having themes that I think are much harder to relate to the children reading them.

I have a bachelor's in English, and even I have a hard time understanding why some things like Shakespeare are pushed so hard on the public school system outside of preservation and maybe seeing what kind of writings got us where we are today/maybe influenced writings of today (or influenced stories that influenced stories in some cases). But even then, I think there could be different ways to approach it. Gosh, I don't know. It's not that I see no value in Shakespeare, but I think I see less value and value for different reasons in it than I do in stories like the other books I mentioned.

I think maybe when it comes to Shakespeare, it could be better as a focused study for a college student if they're interested in it. I think it could be introduced in public schools in some capacity without being made as big of a chore as it is, and then delved into more at the collegiate level.

Something else I find weird is that at my university I attended specifically, the senior thesis papers that had to be like, 20 pages varied in subject depending on which professor was working with the seniors that year. Some professors wanted to do works from Mark Twain or the like. I got stuck with the Shakespeare obsessed teacher and had to write about The Taming of the Shrew and Othello. Which was awful. I hated it, didn't care for Othello at all, Shrew was a little better, but I wished I could have put my time and energy into something I cared about instead. I just find it funny that in this case, what was taught and required to submit research on was based on what the professor enjoyed rather than on some universal criteria.
There are SOME ways to modernize Shakespeare, notably films and television. I remember when I read Macbeth as a junior in high school and we were given options for films to watch. Among some of the options was an original stageplay, a japanese version with daimyos and samurai, and the one I wound up watching was called Scotland P.A, which takes the premise and makes it about a burger joint in the 1975. It honestly makes learning the story an absolute treat to watch, the witches are now a bunch of hippies, King Duncan is the owner of the burger joint and the role of McDuff is played by Christopher Walken (and it is as enjoyable as you think it is). It honestly held my attention and got some genuine laughs out of me that the books weren't going to get in a million years. (I also watched a version of Othello that takes place in a high school, and needless to say, it makes more sense to me at that age than dealing with lords and ladies). Unfortunately, not a lot of teachers care to make use of these modern techniques and just rely on the original book, which is sad.
 

Raz

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Lmao I love The Tempest. I had to take precalculus in high school and didn't want to. It won't kill a child to read something that's difficult. Although I'm sure the skill of the teacher comes into play as far as enjoyment goes, and understanding the language..

I don't think he needs to be modernized to be taught, either. It's literary history. You have to believe that writing and literature and its development over time are a worthwhile human endeavor worth exploring.

But I'm also getting my PhD in English to become a professor so I have different stakes here.
 

Ulmer White

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I am absolutely convinced that classical literature would be useful as a separate subject in school or college.
 

Oracle Spockanort

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it should still be taught, but with a heavier emphasis on critical analysis. And also contemporary works should be brought in because contemporary work can help frame our current world and past influences.
 

kirabook

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Yes, but teachers need to make it fun and interesting to consume. I used to read 24/7 when I was younger. I have never actually read any of the books assigned to me for school. I was a pro skimmer on ridiculous proportions though I do wish now and then that I had actually read them.

I know on a teacher's pay (in America) that's a lot to ask. But something I find fun with modern literature is reading/consuming a book before a movie version comes out and comparing the differences and deciding which is better.

We live in an age where all the modern classics have not only been presented on film, but also parodied to hell and back. How fun would it be to have the kids read the relevant parts of a classic book (or all of it), watch a movie based on the classic interpretation, and then throw in a comedy version at the end.

Or, instead of forcing them to read it at home, throw an audio book in there to read a chapter a day or something. I dunno.

But I think classic lit has a place in society. I think they should expand on what is considered classic lit too, incorporate books from other cultures to round it out.
 

Face My Fears

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Of course they should! However the way it's taught needs to be considered. It shouldn't be in a format where it's mandatory to actually read these texts, especially some that may be seen as offensive/controversial nowadays. But it's good to let students know that these things exist and guide them to understand context and analysis.

I mean, Shakespeare inspired many modern stories so there must be something worthwhile there (even though I hate Shakespeare's work, I can never get beyond a few pages).
 

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"Classics" has a different connotation within UK education, where it mostly means learning Latin and ancient Greek and literature of that time. I don't know about the Scottish system but in england and wales, by the age of 16 you *will* have studied at least one shakespeare play, even in primary school you might have studied an abridged version. It's most commonly Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet, but a lot of schools will do way more than the compulsory one play, and pretty much every school will have done A midsummer night's dream.

All that to say, sure, classic literature should be taught, the english language owes a lot to shakespeare, and once kids cotton on to the fact that he wrote double entendres on every other page (sometimes they're too brazen to be even that) the experience becomes a lot more fun for them :V

More to the point, Shakespeare wrote for the working class, the common people, and once you get past the Old English veneer of it, it becomes pretty apparent. It does take a good teacher to make learning Shakespeare (or anything really) enjoyable, however once you get the ball rolling it's a worthwhile experience, plus you often get to watch a film out of it and that's always fun.
 
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