To Read Shakespeare or Not to Read Shakespeare; That is the Question

Feb 6, 2020

Students and parents typically have two reactions to reading Shakespeare: “Awesome! Someone else is
teaching my child to understand Shakespeare.” Insert groaning child here. Or, “I loved reading
Shakespeare in school! I can’t wait to read this with my child.” Insert excited student reader here.

For those parents who loved Shakespeare as young adults and have instilled that passion in your
children, thank you! For those parents who don’t feel quite as passionate about The Bard, that’s okay.
That’s where English teachers at Excelsior Classes come in. We are here to help your child not only
understand Shakespeare but also grow in maturity and passion for language and literature.

For the Love of Language

Personally, I love just about everything about teaching English: grammar, vocabulary, poetry, literary
analysis, and composition. Commas are possibly my nemesis, but not Shakespeare. I loved reading and
seeing Shakespeare brought to life by my seventh grade English teacher at Berlin American High School;
his to scale model of the Globe Theater (link: https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/) delighted me, and
each time we read Shakespeare out loud in class, I was enthralled. When I finally got to see Shakespeare
in the theater, I was mesmerized in the front row watching a community theater production of
Macbeth.

The language captivated me. I had no idea what was being said, but even as a thirteen-year-old, my
heart was captured by the beauty. Then my teacher gave my class scripts and parts for Romeo and Juliet,
and we watched a film production of the play. Shakespeare came to life. If we didn’t understand what
was being said, my teacher explained and made us laugh at the cultural references and the humor.
I fell in love with the Elizabethan language and understood the depth of Shakespeare’s genius thanks to
my middle school English teacher and his passion for Shakespeare. I developed a life-long love of
language and literature.

I believe teaching Shakespeare in middle school and high school English allows a new generation of
students to become entranced by the beauty of language and the joy of experiencing excellent
literature.

Literature Teaches Life

Not only do I love the language of Shakespeare, I love the depth of characterization in Shakespeare’s
plays and how much this sixteenth century writer understood my life and emotions. A key to
Shakespeare’s genius is his ability to teach truth with disarming humor and capture universal human
emotions to show how they drive us to action.

When we look at Much Ado About Nothing, we explore how pride blinds us to truth or how jealousy
poisons relationships. Romeo and Juliet can teach us about wisdom in relationships. Macbeth can teach
us about choosing counselors wisely. There is no want of life lessons to be found within the pages of
Shakespeare.

So whether you loved or did not love Shakespeare in school, give yourself and your children the gift of
what Shakespeare can teach through an Excelsior English class. I hope and pray you are pleasantly
surprised at the depth of conversation and wisdom your students share with you as they delve into the
discovery of the beauty of language and the depth of life experience Shakespeare teaches.

Amy Wallace is a homeschool mom of three with two brilliant homeschool graduates- yes, it can be done! Her oldest daughter is in graduate school at The Medical University of South Carolina, studying for her PhD, and her second daughter attends Anderson University, studying for the ministry. Amy is still happily homeschooling a fantastic high schooler. Amy earned a Bachelor of Science in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Louisville (Go CARDS!) and regularly applied her degree to writing Dark Chocolate Suspense—high-action suspense that delved deep into heart issues—for Random House/ Multnomah and Harvest House Publishers. Her counseling degree also comes in handy when homeschooling, speaking, and teaching numerous English and writing courses..

Amy’s heart is to share her passion for writing and English to inspire young people to think deeply and learn how to use their words well and wisely. She endeavors to make her classes a safe place where mistakes are opportunities to learn in an environment infused with fun because she believes what students enjoy learning they remember.