“What does Shakespeare mean to you?” is just one of the important questions to be asked in UK schools later this month. Schools nationwide have been invited by the Royal Shakespeare Company to explore the importance of the Bard in their Stand Up for Shakespeare Assemblies Week (26-30 January).
I can’t imagine a better way to start 2009! For too long schools have been prepping their students for Shakespeare exams and have been forgetting to ask these vital questions. To really enjoy Shakespeare, you have to have a personal connection with his writing – and this is something that cannot be nurtured through exam prep.
Before I get swamped with complaints from well-meaning teachers, I should point out that I by no means blame them – they just have so much work to get through and league tables to deal with. I’m just glad that the Royal Shakespeare Company is on hand to nurture a genuine enjoyment of Shakespeare in school-aged children.
I can’t wait to hear some of the answers to this question. I’ve long been fascinated by stories about how people’s lives have been touched by Shakespeare. So, in the lead up to a national debate and exploration of Shakespeare, let’s ask that all important question right here: what does Shakespeare mean to you?