Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Bard, banned from Britain

From the Daily Mail, July 11:

"Shakespeare will be ditched from secondary school tests under plans being considered by ministers, it emerged yesterday.

"Teenagers would no longer sit formal tests on the country's most renowned playwright under a shake-up of English Sats for 14-year-olds.

"They would instead be assessed by their teachers on their understanding of the plays after performing them and studying their 'wider cultural context'."

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Okay. The Daily Mail loves to cherry-pick issues, sometimes, and even more loves to headline stories that probably don't deserve as much hysterical attention as they're given.

But read the whole thing.

"New-style Sats tests being trialled in 400 schools with a view to nationwide introduction from 2010 do not include a Shakespeare section.

"Instead, the Government has produced new materials to help teachers assess pupils' understanding of the Bard without the use of tests.

Read this again: "(Teenagers) would instead be assessed by their teachers on their understanding of the plays after performing them and studying their 'wider cultural context'."

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@#$% "wider cultural context." This is a synonym for "How we want you to see it."

"Lively discussion" my @$$.

Shakespearean studies involve a deep search into many levels of human truth. The complexity of Shakespeare's observations defies some "teacher" assessing adolescent "understanding."

I'm so angry about this I want to go out and hurt someone. But I won't.

The Bard said: "I like not fair terms and a villain's mind." ("The Merchant of Venice")

Neither do I.

(via A Missourian at An Advocate for the Republic)

7 comments:

E.D. Kain said...

"That one may smile and smile and be a villain..."

And yes, our politicians smile as they stick the knife in, don't they?

Charles Henry said...

Great Britain without Shakespeare is no longer great.

The teachers smile, and tell their students, this is old, and no longer relevant. Trust us...

"One can smile, and smile again, and still be a villain."

Maybe they think that by burying the bard, they can raise their own status by standing on his tomb, and declare themselves elevated.

Eowyn said...

You both are correct, though you choose different contexts. THAT is what makes Shakespeare so great.

And they want to take this out of anyone's curriculum, much less Great Britain's?

To borrow from Hemingway, they should be asking not for whom the bell tolls.

E.D. Kain said...

They've tried to take Mark Twain out of American schools because he uses the "n" word...and other books because there are GASP witches in them. Regardless of their merit.

It's very troubling.

Eowyn said...

I know. These books are history, regardless whether we agree with them or not. And tampering with history is Orwellian, no matter the nice language used to justify it.

Charles Henry said...

e.d. kain, I didn't see your comment when I posted mine, so now **I'm** smiling that we both reached for the same Shakespeare quote as a response..!

(hope that doesn't make me a villain...)

It doesn't stop with books, there's been a trend for years to censor older movies and cartoons, taking out the really inflammatory material...:

..the smoking scenes. :)

Eowyn said...

Charles Henry, I've always been a big fan of Tom and Jerry cartoons (the old ones!) -- and I never knew the black lady (whose face you never saw) was a maid. I always thought it was her house the cartoon was set in.

And we had a maid! (on account of my mother leaving my dad with four children to raise)