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.