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Learning Shakespeare, Learning More | Rhapsody of Words

By August 20, 2014 No Comments

Does learning Shakespeare make you more creative? More ethical? More likely to appreciate Game of Thrones? Here are some of this week’s insights.

Jennifer Kitchen’s excellent piece for the Epoch Times about the changes to the English school curriculum and the Shakespeare requirements emphasizes the impact on children’s creativity. She writes, “It is the very complexity of Shakespeare’s language which makes his work so suited to creative approaches led by students. The difficult language, complex plots and distant settings of the plays demand new ways of thinking from children. And when they study the plays by performing them, it allows them to take creative risks, giving children a sense of confidence and ownership over the text.”

Other school teachers use Shakespeare as a means for teaching morality. Although it may seem “counter-intuitive to use the complex language of 17th-century England to introduce the already difficult topics of right and wrong” this teacher yet primary school teacher, Karen Kelleher suggests just that. (Perhaps including puppets into the discussion.)

The Boise State Public Radio recently discussed the power and beauty of hymn texts–even for those without any religious leanings. One of their examples of those affected by hymns was Shakespeare, whose Sonnet 74 seems almost like a hymn itself.

My spirit is thine, the better part of me:

So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,

The prey of worms, my body being dead;

The coward conquest of a wretch’s knife,

Too base of thee to be remembered.

The worth of that is that which it contains,

And that is this, and this with thee remains.

But While some people link Shakespeare to church music, others compare him to Game of Thrones. In his article for The Telegraph, Daniel Hannan gives his account of watching Henry IV Part One and overhearing other audience members compare the play to Game of Thrones. While giving no disrespect to George R. R. Martin, Hannan points his readers to Shakespeare instead, insisting that Shakespeare can make the same claim as Falstaff: “I am not only witty in myself,/ but the cause that wit is in other men.” In his exuberant piece explaining why memorizing Shakespeare is worthwhile, Ken Ludwig uses the same quotation. He says moreover that Shakespeare influenced every writer that came after him, and even states, “Shakespeare was the greatest writer that ever lived. Hands down. It’s inarguable. Ask anyone who knows anything about learning and art and they’ll agree.”

If he asked Deepa Ganesh reporting for The Hindu, Ludwig might find some contention. Ganesh gives a lovely summary of a symposium about Shakespeare in India, with beautiful descriptions of different scholar’s talks, including the following: “Prof. Rajendra Chenni argued that there was no “one language” in Shakespeare. “There are many languages from his many worlds of experiences, and that became his language,” he said.
That’s the news in Shakespeare’s language this week. Thanks for reading!

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