By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Teachers helped foster love of Shakespeare
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News

THE GRIND: Lambert's Eric Kohlins

By: Joshua Sutton

“Good night, good night.

Parting is such sweet sorrow,

That I shall say good night til it be morrow.”

 

-- William Shakespeare from “Romeo and Juliet”

It’s hard for me to believe that in 14 years I have not written a column about William Shakespeare.

Why is that so surprising? Because from the first time I saw the 1968 movie, “Romeo and Juliet,” I have been a big fan of “the Bard.”

I don’t really remember reading Shakespeare in middle school, but I do remember the field trip we took to go see the movie.

We took buses to downtown Birmingham, Ala., to an old, historic movie theater, where we would join with numerous other students from all over town to watch the movie.

Of course, none of us girls were thinking about the movie. This was a big opportunity to A) get out of school for the day and B) boy watch.

In those days, we discussed what we were going to wear that day, who we would sit with on the bus and at the movie and all other things non-educational.

At that time, the only thing I really knew about Romeo and Juliet was that they were a young couple in love and Juliet said the famous line, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

I will never forget when the movie started. At first, it was difficult for me to follow. After all, 15th century English is not exactly the sort of speech I was used to.

But soon I found myself entranced and transported back to the magical world of that time. It was as if I was right there with the Capulet and the Montague families, feeling their family feud.

The tale was filled with everything — humor, romance, violence, love and, of course, tragedy.

I was mesmerized by all of it and found myself moved to tears when the young couple died.

At the end, there was even the lesson of forgiveness as the two feuding families came together to mourn the loss of their young loved ones.

Shakespeare was born sometime in April 1564 and died at age 52 in 1616. So much about his life is unknown, and it is not known exactly how he died.

He wrote “Romeo and Juliet” early in his career and it remains, along with “Hamlet,” the most frequently performed plays of the great playwright’s.

In all, Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, 154 Sonnets and two long narrative poems. Besides “Romeo and Juliet,” my favorite works of his include “Hamlet,” “Othello,” “King Lear,” “Taming of the Shrew” and “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

In high school and college, thanks to excellent literature teachers, my love of Shakespeare was fostered and I grew to love not only his language and stories, but also his keen insight into the human spirit and human nature.

What a gift he gave us with his words. Truly nobody has contributed so much to the English language.        

That said, imagine my dismay when I heard that a teacher in California has decided not to teach Shakespeare to her high school students because, among other reasons, she doesn’t think his writings are relevant to their life experiences. Talk about tragedies.

My hope is that her colleagues step in and “school” that teacher about the significance of Shakespeare and his important body of work.

I can only imagine the difficulty of teaching “the Bard” to this generation, but isn’t that why teachers teach? Great teachers are able to take difficult and otherwise confusing material, help students understand and sometimes feel inspired by the written words. 

I am so thankful for the amazing teachers I had. They taught me to love, appreciate and respect great literature. I feel sorry for students who may not get to experience Shakespeare just because their teacher didn’t learn to appreciate him.

 

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at contact@adlenrobinson.com.