Shakespeare in the Classroom: to be or not to be?


  • Sandeep Purewal The University of Warwick


Education, English Literature, Professional Development, Shakespeare, Teaching and Learning


This paper explores the arguments surrounding Shakespeare's place in the classroom amid recent changes to the National Curriculum. First, it will explore arguments suggesting that the works of William Shakespeare are not relevant to the lives of young people today: as a result, the compulsory study of Shakespeare in schools risks alienating students, many of whom come from different ethnic backgrounds. Once acknowledging these arguments, however, the paper will propose that the themes and ideas that run through Shakespeare's works are universal, surpassing barriers such as race and class. In this way, the plays are as relevant today as on the day they were written. The paper will argue that rather than Shakespeare being irrelevant, it is outdated teaching practices that limit the benefits of Shakespeare. Finally, the paper will explore a range of creative approaches to the teaching and learning of Shakespeare which possess the potential to significantly increase student engagement.


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