The Instigator
TheInterlang
Con (against)
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The Contender
BillyDrumMajor
Pro (for)
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Should Shakespeare continue to be taught in high schools?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/30/2013 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,330 times Debate No: 35187
Debate Rounds (3)
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TheInterlang

Con

Shakespeare was just one author, yet most schools treat him like God. A person that cannot "analyze" Shakespeare is considered "illiterate" and "unfit for society," even though most people are never forced to read Shakespeare ever again.

The only argument to keep Shakespeare is culture, but music, painting, and food are huge pieces of culture as well. We don't judge a person on their ability to "analyze" the Fifth Symphony or "correctly" look at a Van Gogh, unless they are taking it as an elective class.

Shakespeare is fictional, in a completely different dialect, and doesn't have much relevance to either history or modern society. Let it die, or make reading fiction an elective class. Culture is best taught by the parent.
BillyDrumMajor

Pro

Shakespeare is absolutely necessary in high schools. While the dialect is foreign, that is a promising feature of the text. This allows students to apply their minds on a far deeper level than regular American English could. Critical (cognitive) thinking has become increasingly emphasized in the school system. What better way to teach these skills through language, something anyone can come to understand? Therefore, Shakespeare is a tool used not to lull the reader into apathy but to grow their mind, enabling them to understand more and more without the answers black and white in front of them.
Debate Round No. 1
TheInterlang

Con

I agree with you on Shakespeare being beautiful literature, but it makes no sense to judge a person on the ability to comprehend it.

About 80% of adults and 90% of minors I know say they hate(d) Shakespeare in class. Ask a scientist, pharmacist, oil company guy, construction worker, etc., if they evey had to analyse Shakespeare as part of their job. My English teacher says "the purpose of reading Shakespeare is to prepare you for what is next," in other words, more HS Shakespeare.

For all intents and purposes, most HS students are literate. I found a college science textbook, flipped to a random page, and could read it effortlessly.

Also, Romeo and Juliet is a very racy play; it makes Family Guy seem tame! This story contains pedophilia (we have nearly a decade age difference between R and J), sex, disobeying parents to the extreme, and suicide over love! Many teens are highly impressionable, and Romeo and Juliet isn't doing any good. Most school computers block YouTube, but have no problem with this story at all.

PS. Shakespeare was a playwright, therefore his stories were meant to be acted, not read. Would you read the script to Avatar? How about the Big Bang Theory? Would you eat a sandwich with a spoon?
BillyDrumMajor

Pro

While you make excellent points, I feel there may be some points you glazed over. When teachers say they're preparing you for what's next, they mean college, where you will have to read texts with very advanced language in all classes. If Shakespeare is introduced in high school, comprehension would come easier in the future. Also, being an actor, I am likely to read scripts, but I acknowledge I'm an anomaly.
Debate Round No. 2
TheInterlang

Con

The teacher specificallly said it was to prepare for later Shakespeare reading. I understand college textbooks are slightly harder than the high school ones, but I doubt any are written in Iambic Pentameter, spell "film" as "phillum", refer to sorrow as "teen", or use that font that makes the S's look like deformed F's.

As language evolves, it gets harder and harder to read older works. Shakespeare in the future may be like Anglo-Saxon today. Words have been simplified, complicated, dropped, added, rearranged, and changed in meaning so much in Modern English. Though it is good to preserve old literature, we cannot just hold onto it forever in school and then wonder why each generation is more confused than the last.

If the point is to get students to read more, that's fine. There are plenty of ways to do that without reading old, confusing literature in a style that isn't even used anymore. There are plenty of other books that are at a challenging level, but are more entertaining for modern people and less confusing than Shakespeare books. Things people can actually relate to at some point in their lives.
BillyDrumMajor

Pro

BillyDrumMajor forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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