March 4, 2011

Helen Mirren Says Schools Should Stop Making Children Read Shakespeare

With all due respect Dame Mirren, I have always loved and respected your work as an artist but come on now! Reading is essential for our youth. We don't want to raise future generations of mindless boobs who lack any creativity or imagination!? We also don't want to eliminate the critical thinking process from our childrens curriculum even if it may be boring at first?! We want children to embrace the ability to analyze others written works and be able to interpret it. Not to mention, reading enhances a child's grammar and vocabulary. Besides, if we were to remove boring subjects from schools curriculum wouldn't that include most subjects that children "feel" are boring like mathematics, science, history etc almost everything is boring to them at first. Why? Because learning is hard and challenging at first. So where would we draw the line? Removing Shakespeare's work from schools would be a slippery slope we don't want to go down.

I am a visual person and a lover of the arts, so I appreciate your suggesting a child's first Shakespeare experience be in performance, in the theatre or on film.  However, the original context loses it's flavor when it get's interpreted by the director and many times large portions of a persons written work gets cut out of the theatre performace or film due to time constraints. Therefore, I would recommend a combination of both. That way the child could critique the theatre performance or film based on what they have read and imagined for themselves. Most of the time, movie's are fantastic for those people who have not read the book the movie was based on. But ask a person who loves to read and they'll agree that the written work is far greater a pleasure than the director's visual interpretation of an authors writings. Why? Because the reader has already created the scenes in their mind's eye. It is my hope that Shakespeare's work remain in the classrooms for future generations to debate, discuss and twist their brains into a pretzel then come out enlightened in some new way lol ;) It's good to stretch a persons mind.


The Telegraph UK
written by Anita Singh, Showbusiness Editor
Friday March 4, 2011 at 6:40am GMT

Dame Helen Mirren has suggested that schools should stop making children read Shakespeare.

The actress said that pupils should be introduced to the Bard through live performance or cinema rather than the texts of his plays.

“Honestly, I don’t think kids should be made to read Shakespeare at all,” she said. “I think children’s very first experience of Shakespeare should always be in performance, in the theatre or on film - mostly in theatre. But it should be a performance because that makes it alive and real.”

The study of Shakespeare’s works is a compulsory part of the national curriculum, but Dame Helen’s thoughts echo those of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which has warned that children are being turned off the subject because of the “boring” way in which it is taught.

Dame Helen’s latest role is Prospera in a film version of The Tempest which changes the gender of one of Shakespeare’s great characters.

Despite her reservations about the teaching of the Bard’s work, Dame Helen said it would outlive modern movie blockbusters such as Avatar.

Speaking to ITV1's Daybreak programme, she hailed James Cameron’s 3D adventure as “groundbreaking and brilliant” but said: "In 20 years' time it will be kind of old hat. The Tempest will be watched as fresh in 20 years' time as it is for anyone watching it today."

Her co-star in The Tempest is Russell Brand, the controversial comedian. Dame Helen declared herself “infatuated” with him and joked: “I’m a good girl, and when good girls meet bad boys terrible things can happen.”

No comments: