Imprimis: Links and Tidbits: 10 December 2010

This week: More on Shakespeare and economics, the value of education, some very young folk engaging with Shakespeare, and a few just-for-fun lists.

  • A teacher blogs about the value of a liberal arts education. Cass says: She has an amusing (and so true) comment on Shakespeare: “And in Professor Brady’s Shakespeare class, I learned the undeniable truth that Shakespeare was a dirty dirty bird. When in doubt, assume he’s talking about sex. This will serve you well in interpreting his texts. It also goes far in explaining why the man’s works have endured for so long.” But the real focus of the post is a commentary on the current state of our education system, which in America is designed to churn out round pegs for round holes, cogs for the machine. On her students’ obsession with good grades and finding “the right answer,” she says, “I grew so frustrated, I returned everyone to their seats and asked a question. ‘Why do you attend school?’ After the first round of the ‘Because they make us’ chorus, other answers started to trickle in. To get good grades. To get high SAT scores. To get into a good college. To get a good job. ‘Doesn’t anyone want to learn?'” This goes so much to my own personal philosophy of teaching — that we ought to value education for its own sake, that being a learned individual, who can carry on interesting conversations, think critically and creatively, and who has the desire to seek out new information and to explore it — that that’s important. I wish it wasn’t always about the bottom line and the step-ladder to success.
  • Former ASC NEH Institute participant Jim Casey has an article coming out soon on the “ethical requirements of early modern bodies and the moral judgments tied to them,” especially as relating to violence, masculinity, and femininity. Sarah says: Not unrelated to Cass’s blog this week… Should be an interesting read.
  • Sir Patrick Stewart on, among other things, British arts cuts in education: “I don’t think any recent Government can be smug about their relationship to the arts in England. Even the Labour Government underestimated the sheer economic benefits that derive from it. It’s never been fully appreciated or understood. Until it is, there will be tension.”
  • The essay “Sophistication Versus Savagery: How Education Defies Distinction” examines, through some of the work of the late Frank Kermode, Caliban and the relationship between education and morality.
  • A director has made a career out of doing Shakespeare in unusual locations, including Hamlet on Alcatraz. Cass says: This is pretty much the polar opposite of how we do Shakespeare at the ASC, but man, that sounds like it would be a fun show to experience.
  • Career Lessons from Shakespeare employ some cleverness in making practical use out of quotes from Shakespeare, and another author argues that “Shakespeare knows why so many home-based businesses fail — Do you?”
  • A home-schooling mom wants to assure you that yes, six-year-olds can do Macbeth. Cass says: I love that this mother isn’t shying away from the challenges presented by Shakespearean language, and that she’s willing to introduce her six-year-old to such advanced concepts as allegory and metaphor. Here’s hoping young Willem is hooked for life — send him across the pond for our Theatre Camp when he’s old enough!
  • Another remarkable student, this thirteen-year-old wants to see all of Shakespeare’s plays within two years. Cass says: What a great personal challenge! This kid’s lucky to have a family who can travel to see so many great shows done by so many wonderful companies. We’re especially grateful that they’ve chosen to see a few of their plays at the ASC — come back for more when you move on to Middleton, Marlowe, and Jonson.
  • The end of the year always sees an influx in “Top 10” lists and similar, and the world of Shakespeare is no different. Enjoy 10 Genre-Busting Shakespeare Remixes and the Coolest Shakespeare Riffs in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

That’s all for this week — If you’re within traveling distance to Staunton and need some holiday cheer, swing by for family-friendly A Christmas Carol, or for the grown-ups only Santaland Diaries or Twelve Dates of Christmas.