365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

316. Kids and Shakespeare

with one comment

There is almost always an effort on the part of any Shakespeare company to reach the youth audience. Whether “youth” is defined as high school or elementary school, it seems clear that those who love Shakespeare generally really want to make sure that kids love him too. But why is this?

Well, I can think of three reasons – mainly since I was introduced to Shakespeare at a very early age and know firsthand of the benefits.

1. Almost everything else will seem easier.

This might sound like a dumb reason to get kids to tackle Shakespeare, but think back to when you were in high school and had to read The Great Gatsby or Heart of Darkness or anything by Thomas Hardy. Though written in “plain” English, sometimes those books felt like mountains you had to somehow scale to find a point to make during your research paper. Ugh. I remember when I had to read all of those books and they absolutely made my brain hurt. But then I remembered that I had to ability to understand and interpret works like King Lear, and knowing that, I felt far more confident in my ability to tackle more recent works that were in language far more familiar to me.

I think a lot of the time, students struggle with assignments because they simply don’t feel like they can do it. It’s a confidence issue a lot of the time. If you think you can’t do it, well, then you can’t. That sounds trite, but it’s true. When kids are introduced to something complicated like Shakespeare and are taught to understand it, most everything else will seem like a breeze. Which brings me to reason #2…

2. Your ability to interpret other works will improve.

Shakespeare is tricky. Adults who have studied him for years still struggle sometimes to get to his meaning. However, once you get a good handle on how and what he writes, you will be able to understand works inspired by him and that reference his plays. If I didn’t have a decent understanding of Shakespeare’s canon, there is no way I would have achieved a B in my Oscar Wilde seminar last year. I was able to see how Wilde referenced and borrowed from Shakespeare in his works, a point which I frequently used in my papers. Being familiar with Shakespeare has saved my grades on more than one occasion and has definitely helped me to delve deeper into many other authors’ works.

3. His works need to be kept alive.

That’s a given, and it might sound silly considering he’s probably not going anywhere – it’s not like the most enduring plays in the English language are likely to be forgotten, right? Well, if people aren’t taught about Shakespeare and aren’t taught how to enjoy his work, then it seems unlikely the work will stay as popular. Shakespeare’s work really is important. Like him or not, it’s hard to deny how influential and revered he is by just about every medium. If he were forgotten about, and if the works inspired by him are no longer understood, art of all sort would be harshly affected. Keeping Shakespeare interesting and exciting for young people is a way to keep art in general alive.


Written by Caroline Mincks

August 13, 2010 at 9:32 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , ,

One Response

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  1. Absolutely agree with the study of Shakespeare instilling confidence in young. We run a program at the Folger with elementary students and I’ve seen first hand how their confidence level goes through the roof! They feel they can do anything after their encounter with the Bard.


    October 1, 2010 at 8:56 AM

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