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To Teach or Not To Teach (Shakespeare in 45 minute classes with limited resources and time with readers who need work in a huge range of everyday skills)

Shakespeare makes me a hypocrite.

I’m a big believer (and a big talker) in focusing on independent reading with choice rather than whole class reading of classic literature. Ishakespeare believe that with our limited time in the classrooms today and with the ever-increasing skills to cover (media literacy, nonfiction analysis), classic literature falls to a lower level on the priority list.

My claims: use short stories and poetry  to teach literary skills. They cover everything you need to cover in literary skills and they are more efficient for your time. Then let them choose their own books–for higher engagement, differentiation, and choice–and follow them individually for those skills.

For this opinion I often receive raised eyebrows, crossed arms scorn,  as well as the occasional death threat.  English teachers love their literature. But I always hold to this opinion and even more so now that I am back in the classroom and see such need for choice and engagement.

And then spring comes and so does Shakespeare.

Now, back in the classroom, I am asking myself what I am going to do. When I am really honest with myself it is my desire to teach them Shakespeare, to PROVE the worth of this centuries old text. I want them to feel the accomplishment of understanding and better yet, appreciating, this language. And yet, I wonder if it is worth all that time. I am still undecided though I’m leaning heavy on the bard.

So alas, to appease my own guilt I share this dilemma here today and I ask the English Teacher’s Friend colleagues for your thoughts on this…

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