To teach or not to teach - that’s the question

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

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THIS week the World Shakespeare Festival got under way.

It’s a collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company and UK and international arts organisations and it’s going to be the biggest celebration of Shakespeare ever staged. The festival features thousands of artists taking part in around 70 productions. There’ll also be events and exhibitions and over 1 million tickets have gone on sale for the performances which run until November. All of which just goes to show that global interest in the Bard does not diminish with the passing years. Quite the contrary. It’s funny because it’s really only in adulthood that I have come to appreciate the talents of this great writer. My first introduction to Shakespeare was as a schoolgirl, when to be honest, his clever lines went completely over the top of my head. A school trip to Stratford Upon Avon, to the RSC’s production of A Winter’s Tale did nothing to ignite any burning affection I may have felt for him. In fact after sitting through what seemed like an eternity on an unforgiving seat high up in the gods, I began to wonder whether I would ever feel any sensation in my buttocks again. Being forced to disect Othello and Hamlet for English A-Level was also a big turn-off. Now, however, I can clearly see his literary genius. A good analogy would be my Gran’s curtains. As a teenager I probably thought they were hideous. Looking back (especially now with a love of all things vintage) I wish I had them. Sometimes it’s just a case of being exposed to things when we’re the wrong age. A controversial thought then: should schools stop force-feeding Shakespeare to unappreciative juveniles?