To Be or Not to Be: Is Shakespeare Necessary in High School English Classes?

Is Shakespeare necessary in high school English classes?  That is MY question…

Why do they still force Shakespeare and ancient literature on high school students who have no future use for it?  I understand that Shakespeare’s tragedies are part of the history of literature, and feel that he should be mentioned in that context, but devoting a large part of English classes to deciphering it is ridiculous.  I do not mean to offend any readers that may enjoy and appreciate Shakespeare, but am speaking here as a mother of three sons, none of whom found the hours spent on Shakespeare useful or interesting.

English is the only mandatory (at least here in Canada) course in grade twelve.   That fact is understandable as we are a predominantly English-speaking country.    Most Canadian universities require a minimum mark of 70% in grade twelve English for admission.  That would not be much of a problem for university bound students if the curriculum consisted of things these students could actually use in their chosen careers.  Useful skills such as writing resumes, memos, and technical reports,  using proper grammar, preparing PowerPoint presentations, debating and public speaking would be much more beneficial and less of a waste of time for students trying to concentrate on their futures.  When they are not interested in, and have no future use for Shakespeare and English literature, forcing it on them only serves to lower their grade average, compromising their acceptance into the university of their choice.

Grade twelve is a stressful year for students trying to decide what they want to do after high school graduation.  Unless headed for a degree in English literature, studying and analyzing Shakespeare is of no use to many of these students.  Perhaps English literature should be an optional course in high school instead of mandatory, so that those students that enjoy it and may have use for it can benefit without punishing those that do not and will not…

“To Be or Not to Be” should be “To Take or Not to Take”


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