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Old 06-29-2014, 08:31 AM   #286
Dngrsone
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As with everything, the approach is critical. Romeo and Juliet has been rewritted and readdressed so many times (and put into excesssively 'modern' language) that it has almost become cliche.

If a literature teacher had their class do a more-or-less side-by-side analysis of the original prose compared with, say West Side Story or Romeo Must Die, then the kids might gain a better grasp of the material (and maybe even an appreciation of the Bard's skill with words).

But that smacks of effort...
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:01 AM   #287
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I have never had any talent for foreign language. Best I can manage is saying 'I don't speak your language' in several languages. I can't even see what makes 'Old English' related to 'English.'
With me, it's the other way around, at least when reading or listening. I can understand the basics of a language very quickly, sometimes within minutes if related to Dutch, German or English. (10 years ago, I installed a Danish computer for someone, noting in passing that half of it looked like weird German... Not a smart remark....)

One of the best things I could do would be to study Spanish, I think. Possibly, I'd understand half of Portuguese and Italian as well.

One thing that does cost me a lot of effort is math (I'm just not very fast at it), and ironically, I have a technical profession which requires math, and no language skills....
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:55 PM   #288
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I read Shakespeare (most of it) in both modernish adaptations and plays before I was 13 and Dickens, LOTR as well. had trouble understanding LOTR but slogged through it. This was all by choice. I also read most of Louis L'amour and a vast amount of comic books and poetry.

At 13 I discovered Science fiction and that was my main reading for a few years. Along with James Clavell, Taylor Caudwell and Leon Uris and things of that nature. (I can date this accurately because I switched to a school with a large science fiction selection and more historical fiction as well)

Nothing I read in school put me off reading obviously as I still manage to read a fair amount.

I agree that reading something difficult is not the way to enamour people of reading, but neither IMO is Dick and Jane.

Still by the time a student is required to read Shakespeare, they should be able to do it, enjoy it or not, and if they enjoy reading other material they will, most likely, still enjoy it.

Lots of things wrong with the education system but challenging students is perhaps better than boring them. In any subject there are people who will find it too hard or too easy, and many who cannot understand even the fundamentals of a subject or two. If the standards are changed so everyone understands and enjoys everything soon no one would be learning much.

I struggled with Home Economics among other subjects because we had to make food I detested, and I really wanted to be on the rifle range which was a no-no for females way back then or even Shop. But I am considered a gourmet cook by most of my friends today, so it didn't blight me for life.

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Old 06-29-2014, 10:45 PM   #289
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My first favorite book was the Sir John Gilbert (illustrator) Shakespeare, a heavy blue tome published in the 1800's. I think I loved it because no adult I knew ever had any interest in Shakespeare and no one ever suggested I read him. My older brother and sister loved to devise costumes and act out scenes from the plays on a remote Montana farm with no television, but lots of inherited classic books. I would join them as soon as I could read so I was motivated. I have no idea how they discovered Shakespeare.

I don't suppose I had much idea what I was reading. I was thrilled to discover we also had an old red-covered Charles and Mary Lamb Shakespeare which I read in order to better grasp what was going on in the Gilbert Shakespeare.

I loved the sound and rhythm of Shakespeare's language. My youngest brother begged me to read Vachel Lindsay's The Congo to him daily for years (until he wanted to constantly recite it to me) because he loved its rhythm. I'm pretty sure I learned from Shakespeare how to read it in a way that captured his devotion. We did not understand the nuances of the poem, nor could we critique it. We just liked how it sounded.

My point is that children are capable of loving classics and even archaic language. Problems seem to arise when it is someone else's idea that they read them. Random discovery is so much better, but that can best happen with a library of print books and no television or game distractions. My own children never loved Shakespeare and I'm afraid it is because I and their teachers thought that they should. Also they had television and Dungeons and Dragons.
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:06 PM   #290
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Originally Posted by speakingtohe View Post
I agree that reading something difficult is not the way to enamour people of reading, but neither IMO is Dick and Jane.

Still by the time a student is required to read Shakespeare, they should be able to do it, enjoy it or not, and if they enjoy reading other material they will, most likely, still enjoy it.
It's not that something is difficult that's the problem. It's that it's useless. When are kids ever going to need to know how to read the version of English that Shakespeare wrote in? Never. I had to deal with Shakespeare in school and I've never wanted to go back after. It wasn't fun. It wasn't relevant. It was just a waste of time and effort.

Give kids something difficult that will give them useful skills and that's good. Give them something difficult that's not going to give them useful skills and that's a waste of time and effort. Being able to read Shakespeare is not useful.

Also, reading books that have no relevance because they are too old and outdated in the way they were written is a poor way to get kids interested in reading. A good example of a poor book is The Canterbury Tales. Outdated, not relevant and just plain boring. making kids dissect such an outdated work is not going to help the kids learn and it's not going to help them want to read.
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Old 06-30-2014, 02:23 AM   #291
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It's not that something is difficult that's the problem. It's that it's useless. When are kids ever going to need to know how to read the version of English that Shakespeare wrote in? Never. I had to deal with Shakespeare in school and I've never wanted to go back after. It wasn't fun. It wasn't relevant. It was just a waste of time and effort.

Give kids something difficult that will give them useful skills and that's good. Give them something difficult that's not going to give them useful skills and that's a waste of time and effort. Being able to read Shakespeare is not useful.

Also, reading books that have no relevance because they are too old and outdated in the way they were written is a poor way to get kids interested in reading. A good example of a poor book is The Canterbury Tales. Outdated, not relevant and just plain boring. making kids dissect such an outdated work is not going to help the kids learn and it's not going to help them want to read.
My early, voluntary immersion in Shakespeare has been useful to me. I didn't know it was literature and believed it to be a wonderfully illustrated, exotic book of fairy tales. Plus, when you read it aloud, as you should, it offered thrilling dramatic opportunities. The fact that it was far over my head did not discourage me since everything was over my head. So I learned to love books and that the way words are put together can make them sound awesome, which was useful.

Most useful later was that grasping Shakespeare allusions in other books added immensely to the pleasure of reading. I realized how important that was when I read The Satanic Verses last year and understood few of the Rushdie's allusions. I suspected the book would rock if I only understood its foundations.
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Old 06-30-2014, 02:32 AM   #292
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Most useful later was that grasping Shakespeare allusions in other books added immensely to the pleasure of reading. I realized how important that was when I read The Satanic Verses last year and understood few of the Rushdie's allusions. I suspected the book would rock if I only understood its foundations.
This, so much! Shakespeare is everywhere not just in English literature but in everyday English speech. To me, in my culture, knowing nothing at all about Shakespeare would be a bit like knowing nothing at all about the Bible. I'm as atheist as all get-out, but I'm still educating my child about Christian stories just as about various other religious stories, current and ancient (Greek gods, etc). That sort of knowledge is part of an all-rounded, literate education.

I don't need detailed knowledge of trigonometry these days. Nor do I particularly need to know how feudal societies functioned, or how to talk about my aunt's pencil in French, or how to balance chemical equations, or how to make blancmange, or the rules of softball. But I don't regret learning any of those things, and high school shouldn't be all trade school all the time. (Come to think of it, Shakespeare probably comes up more often than any of those other things.)
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Old 06-30-2014, 05:28 PM   #293
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It's not that something is difficult that's the problem. It's that it's useless. When are kids ever going to need to know how to read the version of English that Shakespeare wrote in? Never. I had to deal with Shakespeare in school and I've never wanted to go back after. It wasn't fun. It wasn't relevant. It was just a waste of time and effort.

Give kids something difficult that will give them useful skills and that's good. Give them something difficult that's not going to give them useful skills and that's a waste of time and effort. Being able to read Shakespeare is not useful.

Also, reading books that have no relevance because they are too old and outdated in the way they were written is a poor way to get kids interested in reading. A good example of a poor book is The Canterbury Tales. Outdated, not relevant and just plain boring. making kids dissect such an outdated work is not going to help the kids learn and it's not going to help them want to read.
So every book you read must give you useful skills? I guess I missed that part when I was young, and am afraid I still read books more for enjoyment then for acquiring skills. I do read a fair amount of technical books and sometimes cookbooks and books on other cultures, but I read several books a week just for pure pleasure.

And I think outdated works give you a perspective on how our ancestors were different in their outlooks and way of life.

I feel that understanding something a little difficult is worth the struggle as it expands the part of the brain that deals with this stuff. It gives confidence that most things can be figured out if you persevere. Right now I am struggling with wireless distribution systems, and getting nowhere fast but because I am confident that most things can be figured with enough effort so I will keep at it. And I will keep at it I think, because of managing to overcome educational obstacles and difficulties when I was young.

I've never read Canterbury Tales, so I can't disagree about it's being boring, and the fact that you have in spite of your low opinion of it shows that you are willing and able to overcome obstacles and difficulties as well.

I think both you and I and many others would be a lot less able if school had been a complete sleigh ride.

Helen
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Old 06-30-2014, 05:44 PM   #294
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Bible, forgot that... The listing of sons got too boring for me...
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Old 07-01-2014, 08:48 AM   #295
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It's not that something is difficult that's the problem. It's that it's useless. When are kids ever going to need to know how to read the version of English that Shakespeare wrote in? Never. I had to deal with Shakespeare in school and I've never wanted to go back after. It wasn't fun. It wasn't relevant. It was just a waste of time and effort.

Give kids something difficult that will give them useful skills and that's good. Give them something difficult that's not going to give them useful skills and that's a waste of time and effort. Being able to read Shakespeare is not useful.

Also, reading books that have no relevance because they are too old and outdated in the way they were written is a poor way to get kids interested in reading. A good example of a poor book is The Canterbury Tales. Outdated, not relevant and just plain boring. making kids dissect such an outdated work is not going to help the kids learn and it's not going to help them want to read.
That's a rather narrow, utilitarian way of seeing the world. Great if that is how you like life, but the world is not that simple.

Firstly, the content of our learning is often less important than the fact that we are learning. Brains develop through exercise. I don't use my primary school knowledge of earthworms or geometry, but the very act of learning, being disciplined, understanding complexity, processing different kinds of information etc. are all important in my life. In my life and work, I need to process information, follow a narrative, make connections between different kinds of information etc. and the fact that I am practiced and competent is due to learning all kinds of things that I don't really use now. That is the same for reading. The act of reading helps our brain develop in ways that are important later: following a story-line, remembering characters, following and figuring out the plot, questioning our assumptions, being challenged about society etc.

Secondly, I didn't read to learn as a child. I read because I loved it. There were worlds I could go into, in my head. Despite a complicated home life, I was probably one of the happiest children in my small world, because I had somewhere to escape. Reading is, hands down, the most important factor that kept me in school and away from the other crazy stuff that everyone else in my family and school were into. I was reading all kinds of things: plays by Shakespeare, poetry by Tennyson, cheesy Mills & Boon novels, and lots of Archie comics, and they all offered something different to me that I cherish now.
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