This is how South African parents and teachers feel about Shakespeare possibly being dropped from the school curriculum.
Our readers have their say about whether Shakespeare should be scrapped from the South African school curriculum.
"Embrace the past and build a future"
I am disappointed that a professor skirts the issue and misses the point about the huge educational force Shakespeare has on human issues. Shakespeare is one of the world's greatest dramatists, psychologists and humanists. Read Hamlet as an analysis of power; King Lear about blindness in human and family relations.
Come on South Africa! "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." That is Shakespeare.
Of course there's room for All the world's greatest literature. Of course there should be African literature. But teach it at the right level and by teachers who understand that it's about being human. We are depriving ourselves by not welcoming all the free flows of energy here and in the whole world. Let's rather embrace the best of the past and build a future.
Please columnists, try and unpack current topics on a deeper, more complex level.
- Dr. M. Brindley
"Let the kids choose what they want to learn"
I am an English teacher at an Afrikaans school where the learners do English First Additional Language. Our learners have been doing Shakespeare since 1984 when I started my teaching career at the school and they love every minute of it. They prefer Shakespeare to any other genre. Learners are introduced to other literature genres in lower classes.
Why can Matrics not be introduced to Shakespeare? I have collected many letters throughout the year of learners who thanked me for the year and every letter has mentioned how much they enjoyed Shakespeare. Why not let the schools decide what they would like to teach as we do now? Why force something on the learners which we do not relate to? Nothing But the Truth, Mockingbird, A Grain of Wheat, Cry the Beloved Country etc. are works that the learners cannot relate to as it has never been part of their world. They are sick of Apartheid being forced upon them.
They know nothing about it and why do we once again have to enlighten them about a history that was not part of their lives and a history which we would all like to put behind us? We have had more than enough Apartheid poems which the learners do not enjoy at all and I am not only referring to white learners. It causes both races to be very uncomfortable in the class when these literature works are done. Please keep the choices of genres as they are and let the learners decide! We have more than enough things that are forced down our throats.
I still believe that a person who does not know something about Shakespeare has a hole in his soul!
- Kathy Harmse
"There's a lot that needs to be updated"
I think there’s a lot that needs to be updated in school curriculums. First off, I would like to say I loved doing Shakespeare in school. I can still recite lines from MacBeth 26 years on, it was the poetry and set work books that were awful.
But, in all honesty, the curriculum needs to be updated to suit the times we live in. Why is poetry still a thing – once you leave school you NEVER EVER use it. Why are books still prescribed by the school – why can the student not choose their own book – submit a list of five and the teacher vets one of those as being acceptable? The same questions and explorations that are applied to the prescribed books can be applied to any book and students would have to think for themselves and explore their own opinions as opposed to just following what the school system prescribes as right or wrong.
Surely also, it would be more beneficial in later grades to introduce business writing, teach students how to put a CV together and communicate in a more business-like manner to prepare them for university and onwards. No play, whether local or by Shakespeare will help prepare you for your first impression in the work place.
The one thing that does still work for English – speeches, nothing prepares you better for speaking in public and if you update the curriculum to include being in an interview it would definitely be more relevant and help students be more aware of why it needs to be done as opposed to a necessary evil in order to pass.
- Arlene Keefer
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