I'll begin this comment with what I believe to be true: all competent writers can read well, very few competent readers can write well.

Reading, as critical as it is, is a passive, uncritical skill that's only slightly more mentally demanding than watching a movie, listening to a radio broadcast, or enjoying someone telling jokes. A child's first intellectual challenge using symbols, learning language, is far more demanding than reading. The former has context, the latter doesn't.

What schools should be teaching as the priority is not reading, but writing. Writing at its best--artistic, fiction, or non-fiction--requires trying to affect a reader's thinking about a matter. That takes an understanding of issues and subject matter; control over how to make a sound argument; learning the skill of rhetoric; mastering narrative, etc.

People who can write well have better critical thinking skills than people who only read. A person can't write will without excellent critical thinking skills. Even the most gullible and willfully ignorant, can still read well.

Reading and writing should not be thought of as a 50/50 set of skills. A better teaching ratio of reading to writing would be 10/90.

Teach young people, and even older people, to write well, and reading well follows naturally. So do better thinking skills, knowledge, and wisdom.

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The purpose of a high school English language arts class is not to teach kids to love reading, but rather to give them the skills that they need to be effective critical readers and competent communicators. By teaching students these skills, they will learn the value of reading and will learn how to appreciate a wider variety of literature and cultures.

That this article admits that Shakespeare does have a place in classroom (despite the incendiary headline) says volumes about the place of the works of Shakespeare in the English language. To implement a curriculum that speaks to everyone would be impossible and to try would be sheer folly.

Curriculums change and students change too. Finding books that engage people is absolutely an important part of the of the education process. Engaging minds and exposing them to a wide and varied number of viewpoints is important and valuable tool for creating empathy and enabling critical thinking. Living in a multicultural world is to see that much of what we read does not reflect our experiences, English class is the bridge that gives us the ability to understand the ideas of those that are different from our own. Even if Shakespeare’s works are not from our time and do not reflect current experiences, history has shown us that they do have a real ability to speak to something deeper.

If you're trying to solve a crime, you would wise to call your finest detective. If you're trying to teach the art of the English language, you would be wise to call on your finest writer.

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Hear hear. It's not only Shakespeare; reading something like Great Gatsby and then writing an essay where you pretend to believe in all the symbolism the teacher says is there is at best a waste of our time, and at worse makes me decide to actively avoid reading classics. Also, why do schools only teach how to read fiction? Learning to critically read/write non-fiction and media pieces would be far more useful! Ex: How to identify the sources used, the author's background, basic flaws in logic, irrelevant statements -- even things like learning to identify the date a piece was written and considering how that may be important!

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Thinking back to high school, I’d say that this misses the bigger problems with how Shakespeare is taught. The bigger problem is that teachers start setting questions like “Show 3 examples of foreshadowing” or “Find 2 examples of a metaphor in Act II” that miss the point of the play in the first place and lead everybody to instead crib from Coles Notes (actually, I strongly suspect that’s where some teachers got the questions for their assignments.). The language of Shakespeare is definitely a challenge for high school students. For that matter, even Dickens can be quite a slog for a Grade 9 or 10 student who’s never read anything more advanced than Harry Potter. That means the appreciation of the genius of the writing is lost, devolving instead into a grinding technical analysis of prose that was always intended to be performed rather than read.

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You got that right. I love to read but I absolutely hated Shakespeare in high school.

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