The bard’s back!

A special performing arts event was held yesterday to mark the re-introduction of Shakespeare into the syllabus.

Our children will once again eventually, in the long run, learn about the tragedies of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth, and be amused at comedies such as Much Ado About Nothing or All’s Well That End’s Well. However, before that they will learn about the Merchant of Venice from 2017 in class XI and XII.

Clearly, the English syllabus will be richer in content once again.

However, there are concerns. Some decry the level of English displayed by graduates of the local education system. Some say they emerge without a solid foundation in English and with the belief that good English is “flowery”, which is displayed by using as many complicated words and phrases to sound skilled and intelligent.

While we’re confident that the education ministry is strengthening how English is taught and ensuring that fundamentals are developed, we are also hopeful that Shakespeare is re-introduced in a way that complements, and not further complicates the learning of English for the non-native speaker.

Teaching Shakespeare, even for native English speaking teachers can be a challenge. The English is unfamiliar and the phrasing can be puzzling.

We are comforted to know that English teachers will be put through a 10-day orientation course. This is important so that it is not a challenge for them to teach Shakespeare. It is also important that teachers know why they are teaching Shakespeare and the value it adds to not only the English syllabus but education overall.

Much like the transformative pedagogy workshops teachers have been undergoing, it is also hoped that here too, teachers will be able to utilise creative ways in teaching the plays. Shakespeare can be boring if, for instance, you’re just reading it aloud in class and being made to interpret archaic language, and then answer questions with memorised responses.

Shakespeare is much more than that and teachers globally are constantly finding ways to make the bard more interesting and sharing their successful methods online.

It is important that the link to the present day and relevancy that Shakespeare still has today be revealed to young minds, so that they can have fun with it, and in the process learn from it.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
    Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.
    The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.”…

    The lines above are not mine, I am only trying to quote William Shakespeare, the ‘Bard of Avon’. And if I have quoted him wrongly, I only have to blame my searching efforts online for the wrong research I have got.

    So it seems the famous works of William Shakespeare are back in the syllabus of ‘General English’ for the Class XI and Class XII students. Our students are also probably expected to know a few things about the life of the great poet and play writer as they get to read his works.

    When we read so much of Shakespeare, the play writer and poet; we tend to forget that he was always a prolific actor. And if I am not wrong here, he acted in almost all his plays and even directed them. Not all writers try to tell stories strongly through their characters depending on styles of ‘play writing’ and ‘screen plays’ adopted. And even Shakespeare has his styles just like any other forms of literature.

    But as we have mentioned “Romeo and Juliet’ here, we do expect our ‘General English’ class XI and XII students to learn how Shakespeare moved from a conventional style to something different called ‘blank verse’ in poetry different from ‘free verse’ style of that time used in play writing. Learning new things are fun and only today I have learnt something on ‘iambic pentameter’ in English poetry style of ‘blank verse’.

    At times, it’s good a feeling to know that not all of us are students of literature. We must learn a few things on the style in literature that’s unique to Shakespeare while we study his works. And only our teachers in school can make that happen in a fun way to learn with this new syllabus. Reading Shakespeare can be a difficult experience especially when the background music is missing from the literature.

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