Originally Posted by BeccaPrice
I dunno- I was pretty critical of Romeo and Juliet when I read the play in high school. Granted, she was what, 13 or so? a good age for stupid romanticism. I felt that R and J were both idiots, and R, being older, should have known better.
One of the things most modern schools don't mention about R&J: It's not a romance. It's a tragedy
. It is, specifically, a tragedy about the problems that arise from rejecting one's proper role in life--something many modern children have no context for. They can understand "it's tragic to love someone my family hates;" they have no connection to "choosing your own spouse will lead to tragedy and death," so that gets glossed over.
The moral wasn't, "Choose your lover wisely." It was closer to, "See what happens when you buck tradition? Doom. Doom and death all around."
That message has little meaning for modern students.
There are similar problems with most of the "classics" taught in schools. They are very much products of their eras, and some of the continued reliance on them is an overt attempt to keep the values of those eras active. It's not working--kids don't have enough context for that--so instead, we get kids who think that "classic book" means "boring and obsolete story themes" and draw huge meaning from what were originally the side-details.
Combine that with the language shifts over time, and what modern kids get isn't a sense of connection with the past; it's a belief that, a hundred or more years ago, life was totally alien to what they know and therefore nothing from that era could be relevant to them.