ERIC Number: EJ856349
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Reference Count: 4
Speaking My Mind: Stop Reading Shakespeare!
English Journal, v99 n1 p130-132 Sep 2009
Reading skills are vital to student success, and those skills could be practiced with Shakespeare "if students are taught reading skills in the classroom." The problem is that many teachers of English do not consider themselves reading specialists and do not teach reading skills to their students. Fred L. Hamel notes that teachers in a recent study had the tendency "to disconnect reading from literary understanding", feeling that students should be able to "read" before entering an English class. Hamel's article raises questions about the role of teaching reading in literature-based English classes, but it's clear that at least some teachers believe that the purpose of an English class is to teach literature, not reading. If teachers of English truly want students to develop not only a basic understanding but also a deep appreciation of Shakespeare, they need to radically rethink the traditional read-the-play-listen-to-the-tape-take-a-quiz pedagogy that prevails in schools. Teachers need to help students explore the text instead of merely imparting its meaning to them. This method involves teaching critical-thinking skills and valuing students' primary discourse skills. How can teachers help students find the same love and appreciation for Shakespeare that they have? More importantly, how can teachers offer students the opportunity to work with and against a text, to help them develop a strength of insight and the argumentation skills to speak back to the classics? To answer these questions, the author suggests to stop reading Shakespeare as a primary text since it is meant to be seen, not read. To be fully appreciated, Shakespeare's plays must be experienced as they are intended--produced by actors on a stage and watched by an audience. The author stresses that the stage production should be considered as the primary text and the "script" should be used for further exploration of the play. This method of engaging with Shakespeare's texts teaches multimodal literacy skills and critical-thinking skills that the traditional methods cannot.
Descriptors: Classics (Literature), Reading Consultants, Reading, Specialists, Reading Skills, Methods, Reading Instruction, Thinking Skills, English Instruction, Academic Achievement, Reading Achievement, English Teachers, Critical Thinking, Literacy, Drama
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site: http://www.ncte.org/journals
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A