Shakespeare and Wordsworth Deemed “Too Difficult” for Some Australian Schools

This is just the sort of back-asswards thinking that drives me up a wall. That is, if the Times of India has its story straight and Australia indeed is going ahead with the pilot project.

SOURCE

To be fair, the aim is to give failing students a better shot at graduating high school. But on the other hand, if you lower the bar by removing the best of what civilization has created, what exactly does a diploma mean? Will it be Transformers and Harry Potter next?

Standardized tests are idiotic if you have to lower the standards to get children to pass them!

Dumbing down is called dumbing down for a reason, people. At least so long as it is still called that… and hasn’t been renamed by the post-modern self-esteem police into something as innocuous as post-traumatic stress disorder rather than the punchier, more humane and expressive battle fatigue.

I’m all about Salinger and the Motorcycle Diaries if it helps engage students in reading and critical thinking. But to assume that Shakespeare and Wordsworth have nothing to say to contemporary children’s lives is marvelous stupid.

It’s stories like this that fuel me in my purpose to continue with this blog. Those of you who wish to treat the Bard like Grey Poupon may carry on in doing so. His genius will certainly continue to meet you where you live.

But I believe that Shakespeare is a full-spectrum light that shines on all aspects of the human experience. He has been performed, and will continue to be performed, from the Met to the streets of New Delhi, by Dame Judi Dench as well as yon aspiring wench who wanders into her first acting class.

If we lose Shakespeare, we lose what’s best and brightest, what’s ennobling and thorny and raunchy and meddlesome in the human experience. We may as well take down our Michaelangelos and Picassos and replace them with Velvet Elvis and Thomas Kincaid.

Not that Salinger is literary Cheese Whiz. But gee whiz, he would know what I mean. We’re talking about Shakespeare here for crying out loud! Stop teaching him like he’s a stuffed shirt and a bowtie! Bring out Baz Luhrman and Ten Things I Hate About You if you have to (and I love Baz; he’ll know what I mean as well).

Shakespeare is not poofery. He’s not an elective. He’s not dessert after you’ve completed your undergrad work.

To mangle a line from Gandhi (and I hope he doesn’t mind either): there is no way to Shakespeare. Shakespeare is the way.

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