Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Last Tragedy Of Shakespeare

It could read like a Shakespearean tragedy: using the excuse of their students' personal weaknesses, bureaucrats at the Ministry of Education are trying to remove Shakespeare, arguably the finest mind ever in literature, entirely from the national curriculum. Amidst fears that his works are too removed from the mind of the average High School student to understand, Shakespeare could be scrapped.

Perhaps these bureaucrats should consider the reasons why students in New Zealand are so out-performed in other countries. After years of politically-correct, post modern "teaching" strategies implemented by both Labour and National Governments, students, parents and teachers in this country have been left with the short end of the stick. What we are seeing today is a population so dumbed down that many lack basic skills and knowledge, with many ending up on the welfare state. Indeed, the reason why many students "don't get" Shakespeare has been through the curriculum introduced by the same "education officials" now proposing this measure.

This latest proposal to remove Shakespeare, and letting a student who studies a blog as a piece of English literature obtain the same marks as a student who studies Shakespeare's incredible works, is simply the next piece in the puzzle. Shakespeare's works are the best pieces of literature around, and are still very relevant in today's world.

Teachers in schools are smart enough to know this. Said one, "I am genuinely upset that the amount of literature students are required to study is being reduced and replaced with ambiguous standards which seem to water down the work students are required to do."

Said another, "All the challenge and in-depth analysis and skills required at each level are being modified, and in my opinion, made easier. "Is the implication that we should not dare to challenge students, or heaven forbid, ask them to engage with texts that really speak to the human condition in a superbly crafted form? Dumbing down again."

Yet "education officials" who have no idea of how a child's mind works dictate what gets learnt.

Politically-correct, big government dictatorial thinking at work again. Appealing to the lowest common denominator, and not challenging students to think beyond the box of government mandated thinking -the concepts of "sustainability", "equality", or in my English class, "altruism". It is taught much the same in countries such as Britain and the United States -with similar results. The most intelligent students come from countries where they are required to know the facts, instead of writing essays with criteria such as "describe an important scene in [whatever's being studied] and explain why it's important."

In a freer world, schools would be entirely free to teach whatever they want, with the choices of parents and teacher deciding what ought to be taught. As an interim measure, save us from yet more entrenchment of political correctness at school -save Shakespeare.


Elijah Lineberry said...

This really is disgusting.

If New Zealand really does go down this road then I would depart these shores forever (probably to live in the land of Shakespeare).

This is yet another example, Callum, of what I have been saying to you - that the State system is a waste of your time, and you should leave and begin your 'education' to make up for your 'education' ha ha!

madduck2020 said...

Can anyone tell me how reading Shakespeare improved their life? I was forced to study Shakespeare in high school and again in college. It was a terrible waste of time and money!

Callum said...


Ultimately, the impact of Shakespeare on your life comes down to what you think of it, and your interpretation. To some people, it will seem like a waste of time. However, what makes Shakespeare a most extraordinary writer is that he developed and expanded literary techniques and styles in the English language, and used these devices to great effect to get his ideas across -ideas which are as relevant today as they were in his age.

Elijah Lineberry said...

It is ignorant, working class....and stupid when chaps dismiss Shakespeare as being unnecessary or outdated.

All the more reason to have it on the curriculum - so 'certain' people will learn something useful!

As you say, Callum, as relevant today as they were in his age