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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Murk View Post
    Also, "Will I ever use any of this in real life?" is the complaint I heard (and made) most in math class throughout my education.

    The argument "this is of no practical use" is absolutely made for other topics than Shakespeare - and not just by moody teenagers. I'm a boring adult with a responsible job and all that, and I'm still of the opinion that a large part of what they taught me in school (or tried to teach) was a complete waste of my time.
    Indeed. It was absolutely a waste of your time. And wasting your time is an acceptable tradeoff if your classmate goes into physics or chemistry and win a Nobel prize or invents a new medical technology or genetically engineers wheat to help solve world hunger, where a significant portion of the world's population will benefit. Of course the vast majority of kids will never need to have been introduced to trigonometry, or mitochondria, or the like. The few that do use that inordinately benefit the whole, and that's why those complaints don't matter in any way.

    The arts and humanities are valued for helping enjoy our own lives. The maths and sciences are valued for helping improving everyone's lives. That's the difference. Both should be taught. One should be much more emphasized and mandated at all levels until higher ed. And, conveniently enough, that's largely how the system is set up.

    Learning algebra is integral to later concepts in math. Learning Shakespeare is not integral to learning later concepts in literature. You could go through all school until college without learning Shakespeare and get a degree in literature without much hassle. You could not go through all education until college having only learned arithmetic and get a chemistry degree without much hassle.
    Last edited by Peelee; 2020-05-31 at 04:53 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    The part about STEM not receiving similar complaints has already been adressed, so let me just make this point:

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    Honestly, if that lesson hasn't been learned by the time that Shakespeare is being taught, then it's probably not going to sink in anyway.

    ....

    but you never know how many minds are opened up by things they're introduced to at school - or conversely, shut off from certain areas by things that they're not.
    I feel there is a contradiction between these two parts, on the one hand you contend that if a certain thing hasn't been learned yet at high school age then it is a lesson that probably won't be learned yet at the same time you say minds may be opened by introducing them to things in High School.

    In my personal experience high school literature is taught by gatekeepers, by people who believe they have the right to tell you what is and isn't worth reading. You yourself do something similar by dismissing Asterix as something that is just fun. Not something that makes you really think like Shakespeare does. Now I would first argue that Asterix has probably taught more people about Julius Caesar then Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" did and I would secondly argue that the original Asterix comics were cleverly written to the point that it was no less deep than Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" (whose good bits have been ripped of so often that by the time I actually read the Shakespeare version the only new content left was nothing to write home about). Mosy importantly though I would argue:

    What is the point of making that distinction?

    In this time of TV and movies I can't be the only person who grew up around people and regularly talks to people who proudly claim that they never read books. People who moved from the basic books their parents read them as a child on to binge watching TV (or never even read at home to begin with). People whose only real encounter with books are when the teacher tells them what to read, and what they get told just isn't interesting.

    Why make the distinction between high literatutr and low literature, why do so many have a complete disregard for genre fiction and why would you set-up a class to help the kid who already likes reading anyway and not set it up in such a way that the people who never touch a book mighy find something they would enjoy?

    I've heard the phrase "I'll wait for the movie to come out" too often to believe that we wouldn't help more children by having a more inclusive education system with regards to literature. Less gatekeeping, more exploring. Not "Class you must now read shakespeare" but instead "If you like that show why not try this book".
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  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    On that basis, and if we consider "English literature" worth teaching at all, which apparently at least in this country we do since it makes up at minimum 10% of your assessed general secondary education, teaching Shakespeare doesn't seem unreasonable.

    ...snip...

    And while it is important to teach people that reading can be fun, it's arguably more worthwhile to teach them that reading can still be fun even if it's challenging. I find it more fun to read Asterix comics than I do almost anything else, but they don't teach me anything, they don't make me think about anything, and once I've put the book down I pretty much forget about it.

    Compare literature which is more of a struggle to get through but which stays with me and ultimately imparts much more lasting value. I'd include Shakespeare in that, although he wouldn't be at the top of the list. But if I hadn't been introduced to that when I was, I might have just assumed anything that it was unreadable and steered clear. I probably wouldn't, because I've been interested in reading for as long as I've meaningfully had a personality, but you never know how many minds are opened up by things they're introduced to at school - or conversely, shut off from certain areas by things that they're not.

    And even then, a minority view can still be correct.
    Given that I was the one who started this thread complaining about people not bothering to try to learn things and preferring to misunderstand things due to ignorance, with Shakespearean English as my example, what I'm about to say may come as a surprise. (Though probably less of one if you remember that I'm not really a fan of Shakespeare).

    I absolutely 100% think that "English Literature" is not worth teaching at all in pre-college education. I love the English language; I find it fascinating, even as a native speaker. I love reading and creative writing. I despised all my English classes throughout my entire education - at least once they evolved from learning the language to doing literature. There are several reasons for this, one of which is the utter snobbery that comes from assigning value to certain works as "literature" compared to other works which don't count as "literature." Another is being forced to read books (and other works) that I hated. Another is that "literary analysis," at least as interpreted/taught/understood by mere high school teachers (as opposed to people for whom that's their actual field of study - though I have my doubts about that, too) is complete nonsense and utterly unimportant.

    Another major reason is the very attitude you express in that post-snip part of your post that I quoted. Guess what? I read for fun. If I learn something along the way, or get to thinking about a subject, or have new concepts introduced to me... hey, bonus! But that is never the primary goal when reading on my own time - with the solitary exception of "looking up information." Sometimes reading a book is one of the easiest ways to get exposed to new information, and that's why it does make sense to have some required reading beyond just reading for fun, but the book/text itself being the goal? Crazy. Treating "a struggle to get through" as somehow a good thing is mind-boggling to me, and it seems as though you've assigned correlation between something being challenging to read and it being "meaningful," which is utterly absurd.

    As to your last line: yes, a minority view can be correct. A minority preference, on the other hand... cannot. Liking Shakespeare is the latter.


    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Indeed. It was absolutely a waste of your time. And wasting your time is an acceptable tradeoff if your classmate goes into physics or chemistry and win a Nobel prize or invents a new medical technology or genetically engineers wheat to help solve world hunger, where a significant portion of the world's population will benefit. Of course the vast majority of kids will never need to have been introduced to trigonometry, or mitochondria, or the like. The few that do use that inordinately benefit the whole, and that's why those complaints don't matter in any way.

    The arts and humanities are valued for helping enjoy our own lives. The maths and sciences are valued for helping improving everyone's lives. That's the difference. Both should be taught. One should be much more emphasized and mandated at all levels until higher ed. And, conveniently enough, that's largely how the system is set up.

    Learning algebra is integral to later concepts in math. Learning Shakespeare is not integral to learning later concepts in literature. You could go through all school until college without learning Shakespeare and get a degree in literature without much hassle. You could not go through all education until college having only learned arithmetic and get a chemistry degree without much hassle.
    Well said.

    Quote Originally Posted by A.A.King View Post
    In my personal experience high school literature is taught by gatekeepers, by people who believe they have the right to tell you what is and isn't worth reading. You yourself do something similar by dismissing Asterix as something that is just fun. Not something that makes you really think like Shakespeare does. Now I would first argue that Asterix has probably taught more people about Julius Caesar then Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" did and I would secondly argue that the original Asterix comics were cleverly written to the point that it was no less deep than Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" (whose good bits have been ripped of so often that by the time I actually read the Shakespeare version the only new content left was nothing to write home about). Mosy importantly though I would argue:

    What is the point of making that distinction?

    In this time of TV and movies I can't be the only person who grew up around people and regularly talks to people who proudly claim that they never read books. People who moved from the basic books their parents read them as a child on to binge watching TV (or never even read at home to begin with). People whose only real encounter with books are when the teacher tells them what to read, and what they get told just isn't interesting.

    Why make the distinction between high literatutr and low literature, why do so many have a complete disregard for genre fiction and why would you set-up a class to help the kid who already likes reading anyway and not set it up in such a way that the people who never touch a book mighy find something they would enjoy?

    I've heard the phrase "I'll wait for the movie to come out" too often to believe that we wouldn't help more children by having a more inclusive education system with regards to literature. Less gatekeeping, more exploring. Not "Class you must now read shakespeare" but instead "If you like that show why not try this book".
    100% agree! Well stated.
    I'm currently writing a story, titled "Zenith: Another World Saga."

    It's a fantasy/adventure story. Here's the summary:

    When I opened my eyes, I was in a fantasy world. I quickly discovered that it functioned off of game-like rules (levels, EXP, skills, and so on). Taking the name Zenith, I decided to make the best of my new world and live as an adventurer aiming for the top together with my new best friend Rozenskye. And I might be functionally immortal? An Isekai-style story.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    But you could make this argument about so many things. I have objectively got nothing out of most parts of my general education. I don't use maths beyond basic arithmetic, I haven't touched any sort of science since the age of 16
    You are living right now in the middle of a pandemic that requires you to understand both the basics of medical language, a subset of science, and enough statistics to understands levels of risk.

    Outside of these specifics circumstances, you also live in a country where VAT is applied to sales, you are required to pay taxes, and a huge amount of information about civil life is transmitted in the form of percentages, ratios and statistics. And basic science is required to follow the arguments for everything from personal medical treatments to energy generation and its impact in the environment and yourself.

    If you have chosen to not use "maths beyond basic arithmetic" or "any sort of science" you are failing the most basic steps to being a successful, informed citizen. And in these troubled days, you might be undertaking actions that put yourself and others at risk through wilful ignorance. Or possibly, you are actually using what you learnt at school beyond basic arithmetic, and were exaggerating for effect. Hopefully it is the latter and not the former. But in either case, it is not the fault of the schooling, which did its best to provide you with tools crucial to life in the current world.

    ETA: oh, and just in case someone is about to try to turn this into an argument against teaching of languages, no, that too has a crucial impact in everyday life, when it comes to communication. The sheer waste of time and resources that has come in my professional life from poorly written emails alone is staggering. I make no distinction between math/science and language education in schooling: both are crucial in adult life. Sure, I hated having to write to essays a week for ten years of my life, but it taught me how to write, a skill I use as much as science and math.

    But Shakespeare? No, he doesn't seem to have any actual practical uses in the modern world beyond establishing socio-economic status via education boasting. And I for one believe that we could do without that. Therefore, it is useful for those wanting to learn about the period, and thus is an appropriate topic in university, but is not a necessity in obligatory education.

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    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2020-05-31 at 07:30 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    You are living right now in the middle of a pandemic that requires you to understand both the basics of medical language, a subset of science, and enough statistics to understands levels of risk.
    True. It is also true, however, that in the midst of this pandemic, a frightening amount of people are arguing that the human cost of ignoring the pandemic and conducting business as usual is acceptable, perhaps even preferable! After all, they say, it probably won't be them or their families paying the cost. That isn't a STEM issue, that's a humanities issue; they literally don't care if thousands of people they don't know die, as long as they can live their life in the manner they always have. For whatever reason, they haven't learned empathy.

    I think literature is an excellent way to introduce and explore philosophical, ethical, and moral concepts. As The Giant himself said, fiction is only worthwhile for what it can tell us about the real world. By giving names and faces to these principles, we become invested in them. By personifying complex ideas, we can learn about them at a much younger age than we could if we simply had ethics lectures instead of literature classes. And when a story affects us, we internalize it and carry a part of it away with us. The humanities don't only give us another way to enjoy our OWN lives, they teach us how to live with and care about OTHERS. That's every bit as valuable to the individual and to the society as math. These last couple weeks, I've been using Avatar: The Last Airbender to help talk to my five year old daughter about complex but very important concepts. She loves Aang's friendliness, she admires Sokka's intelligence, she mimics Katara's confidence, and - more than anything else, I admit - she CHEERS for Appa's ferocity when he swoops in to save the main characters. She's internalizing beautiful values about kindness, curiosity, and courage in a way that can only be equaled by real-life situations, thanks in large part to the help of a bright and silly cartoon.

    On that level, Shakespeare is worth teaching in high school because his work shows us that despite the centuries and ocean between us, many aspects of the human condition are timeless and universal. Society may be different now, but humans have always yearned for freedom and love, humans have always been petty and selfish, and humans have always - ALWAYS - loved a good fart joke.

    That said, Shakespeare probably shouldn't be emphasized quite as much as he is during general education. In both of the high schools I attended we did 2 or 3 plays each year, with a heaping side dish of his sonnets during my sophomore year. At the time I (and most of my peers) very much enjoyed it, because I was exceptionally lucky to have teachers who loved the material and knew how to show us why they loved it so much. Looking back now though, it does seem rather excessive. Shakespeare masterfully portrayed many elements of the human experience, but there are many more he did not portray. There are more authors than William Shakespeare. Like, at least 3 other authors, probably. Broadening literature lessons would make them more accessible, more relevant, and just plain different. If a student doesn't connect to the Bard, it doesn't mean they're stupid or lazy, it means that it isn't landing right now and they may connect to a different work of art. Teach Shakespeare, but don't make him out to be the pinnacle of literature by which all else is judged. After all, he didn't write Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    Last edited by Marillion; 2020-06-01 at 01:52 AM.
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Marillion View Post
    I think literature is an excellent way to introduce and explore philosophical, ethical, and moral concepts. As The Giant himself said, fiction is only worthwhile for what it can tell us about the real world.
    First sentence: depends on how you define literature. After all, you go on to talk about a TV show, which English Major Purists will definitely say isn't literature. If you mean fictional media in general, then I agree with your first sentence wholeheartedly. However, that's not what "English Literature" means in the context of education.

    Second sentence: The Giant is a good writer, and I enjoy OoTS quite a bit. That doesn't mean I'm forced to agree with his worldviews. I very, very strongly disagree with his statement to the extent that I find that thinking quite poisonous. It reeks of the same kind of attitude that begets the perspective of condemning "badwrongfun" that we sometimes see on these gaming forums. Does he have every right to espouse that opinion? Obviously! But he's not some sort of objective authority on the value of fiction. Quoting him is no more authoritative than quoting that one guy you met on the street that sounded like he had a good point.
    I'm currently writing a story, titled "Zenith: Another World Saga."

    It's a fantasy/adventure story. Here's the summary:

    When I opened my eyes, I was in a fantasy world. I quickly discovered that it functioned off of game-like rules (levels, EXP, skills, and so on). Taking the name Zenith, I decided to make the best of my new world and live as an adventurer aiming for the top together with my new best friend Rozenskye. And I might be functionally immortal? An Isekai-style story.

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    I find it more fun to read Asterix comics than I do almost anything else, but they don't teach me anything, they don't make me think about anything, and once I've put the book down I pretty much forget about it.
    Then you are failing at reading Asterix and should have paid attention in those Shakespear classes on how to read and analyse text.

    E.g. Asterix and the Great Divide, apart from also containing Shakespear references, is a sendup up any strongly "two party" or "two block" political system. Asterix's Obelix and Co. album is a cautionary tale about how capitalism at it's worst works. Asterix and the Mansion of the Gods deals with issues of modernity vs for a better word "traditionalism". Asterix and the Goths is a primer on 19th century history and several of the albums sorta doubles as, rather stereotypical, but functioning descriptions of the bordering nations. Not all of it still holds up of course. And that's just mentioning major themes, there's a lot of minor points along the way. In Asterix in Spain we can read a rather sharp retort to modern masstourism. Finally, Asterix the Gaul (the first album) should probably, if it doens't already, form the basis of any introduction to French geography class.

    Both Tintin and Lucky Luke similarly contains valuable lessons not apparent on the surface. Lucky Luke contains a lot of accurate information about the old West. The authors made sure historical occurences and persons were largely fact based.

    A lot of these deeper themes I can't even go into due to board rules (Tintin covers several politically charged subjects), so if you find Asterix not teaching anything then that's on you.

    Sometimes the opposite is true. The socialist book using Donald Duck comics to argue about capitalism was utter bunk. It is possible to read too much into things too. Whoever authored that impressive feat of insanity probably also coulda done with abit more Shakespear and litterary criticism.

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    First sentence: depends on how you define literature. After all, you go on to talk about a TV show, which English Major Purists will definitely say isn't literature. If you mean fictional media in general, then I agree with your first sentence wholeheartedly. However, that's not what "English Literature" means in the context of education.
    Well, I talked about the TV show more as a rebuttal to what I perceived to be people saying that the humanities weren't a worthwhile subject in general education. ATLA isn't English Literature per se, but it is something that can be analyzed and learned from at a younger age than the literature we're talking about. More on topic, we read Harry Potter and the Sorceror's (yeah, American, sorry) Stone when I was in 3rd grade, about 8 or so. That was decried by purists for many of the same reasons that English Major Purists would condemn ATLA, but my literature teacher used it to great effect in much the same way I'm using Avatar. Beyond the basic plot of a kid learning magic and saving the day, there were lessons in there about abuse, bravery, empathy, etc that were relatively easy for young children to analyze with the help of a teacher. It also showed us as children that reading can be fun, even in a classroom where we had to put effort into thinking about it.

    Second sentence: The Giant is a good writer, and I enjoy OoTS quite a bit. That doesn't mean I'm forced to agree with his worldviews. I very, very strongly disagree with his statement to the extent that I find that thinking quite poisonous. It reeks of the same kind of attitude that begets the perspective of condemning "badwrongfun" that we sometimes see on these gaming forums. Does he have every right to espouse that opinion? Obviously! But he's not some sort of objective authority on the value of fiction. Quoting him is no more authoritative than quoting that one guy you met on the street that sounded like he had a good point.
    I was very tired when I wrote that, and I didn't include all the thoughts that I intended to. I meant to add that while I don't wholly agree with that statement, it is a position I respect, because fiction does always say something about the real world. That's not the only thing that gives fiction value, but fiction is more valuable because it also teaches us certain things about the time and place it was made in, even if that's completely unintentional by the author.

    That, I think, is another reason to study literature; to learn how to analyze information without internalizing it. To learn how to extract meaning and how to support your viewpoints. To learn how writers use words to manipulate the reader into feeling and reacting a certain way. Being exposed to opposing viewpoints, puzzling out why people have the viewpoints they do, and reconciling those conflicts helps the student understand what they personally value and why.

    And in that regard, Shakespeare remains a very efficient author to study. His plays are packed with layers of meaning, and students can analyze complex political schemes, crass double entendres, and heartbreaking human tragedy all in the same work, sometimes on the same page. They'll also learn how to work within constrictions while still clearly and effectively expressing their intent; Sonnets, for instance, are a rather restrictive structure, but poets used that structure to their advantage while distilling the essence of what they wanted to convey.
    Quote Originally Posted by Xefas View Post
    I like my women like I like my coffee; 10 feet tall, incomprehensible to the human psyche, and capable of ending life as a triviality.

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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    I am reminded of an old joke:

    " Why do we have to learn Shakespeare? No one ever uses it! Besides, his dialog is nothing but cliches!"
    “A long surcote of pers upon he hade, / And by his syde he baar a rusty blade.” - Chaucer

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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    I am going to take a different tack than the rest, and go back to addressing the original post.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    I'm not the biggest fan of Shakespeare. Don't get me wrong, he was pretty talented and also had an interesting sense of humor, but so many people seem to think he was the biggest theater genius ever and all his works were complete masterpieces to which all other plays must be compared, which is such ridiculous hyperbole that it's kind of a turnoff. But even though I'm not head over heels for his stuff, one thing that has always annoyed me about many people who don't put the guy on a pedestal is the way they treat the language used. Now, if your native language is something other than English, I can understand that his archaic language could be difficult. But the number of native English speakers who act like Shakespearean English is completely impenetrable is excessively high, and I honestly don't get it. Yes, it's different from current English. Yes, it requires you to actually learn a bit. Why is "learning a bit" apparently a complete deal-breaker for so many people? Why do they prefer to throw up their hands and declare Shakespeare's works impossible to understand - or worse, completely misunderstand things because they refuse to learn what words actually mean. I was thinking about this because I was watching a show where there's a theater thing going on, and the supposedly competent character says, "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" instead of "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" Wherefore does not mean where. That's not even a reasonable assumption to make from context clues even if you didn't know what it meant, but the assumption that wherefore means where is super common for some reason. Ever seen the Bugs Bunny Witch Hazel playwright episode? "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" "I'm right here, Juliet!" Yes, it's a joke, but it exists because of the common misconception. Nobody thinks that "therefore" means "there," so why would "wherefore" mean "where?"

    TL;DR: Why do people prefer willful ignorance, complaining, and obvious misunderstandings over putting forth the effort to learn something? Shakespearean English is the subject of my rant, but the question holds for other things as well.
    Okay, so who are these 'people who prefer willful ignorance?' First and foremost, do you really know that this is the case? I ask not because I have any knowledge about you, but because I see statements vaguely like this an awful lot (which, I guess, is a case of my 'number of _X_ who act like _Y_ is excessively high' anecdote going up against yours). I am well seated in middle age, beginning to see my parents turn into their parents and people of my generation turning into the same caricatures we laughed at our parents for being. One of the roles that I definitely see a lot of my peers sliding into is that guy who really loves to talk about ‘kids these days.’ How they are disrespectful, or lazy, or immature, and so forth, almost always with no actual background in what ‘kids these days’ really are like. “Why is ‘learning a bit’ apparently a complete deal-breaker for so many people?” seems to slot right in that list of things. Beyond that, I work managing a department of programmers and lawyers who are all “Highly Intelligent™®©.” People who were a really big deal amongst the A-grade-getting students in high school, are still patting themselves on the back for their SAT score (20-30 year on), and kind of are disappointed that they don’t get that kind of accolades in the adult world (except, you know, massively underchallenged and overcompensated lifestyles in a very shiny office building). The number of times I have heard condescending commentary about ‘normal’ people has made me rather suspicious of assertions about the ignorance of the masses. I am trying to explain why I am suspicious of such claims, and since I don’t know you, hopefully you don’t take this personally. However, I would like to know, do you actually know that there are vast swaths of people out there who are mistaking ‘Wherefore art thou’ as an inquiry of location, and doing so out of some form of willful ignorance?

    If there are a large number of people out there, it would be good to analyze the reasons, and/or what kind of excuses we consider acceptable. What do you think the actual reasons would be? I think Murk raised a good point about people outside the culture feeling absolutely no incentive to invest in this thing that seems like nothing but an excuse for people to mock him for not knowing it already (I have a similar position on chess – it is better for me to say, ‘yeah, I don’t play chess,’ than it would ever be to do anything less than be a grand master at it). Likewise everyone has to turn 14 sometime (or whenever it is we start teaching Shakespeare in school) and make whatever learning pitfalls one makes while learning the matter (and I do not trust anyone here’s memories on what it was like to learn this stuff for the first time. We’ve all omitted the mistakes we made to get to the understandings we’ve had now). Also joke-makers like the Bugs Bunny reference. Is there a specific criteria of people who do not know the truth of the Shakespearian word choice, and which you think to be an unacceptable reason for that ignorance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    Given that I was the one who started this thread complaining about people not bothering to try to learn things and preferring to misunderstand things due to ignorance, with Shakespearean English as my example, what I'm about to say may come as a surprise. (Though probably less of one if you remember that I'm not really a fan of Shakespeare).

    I absolutely 100% think that "English Literature" is not worth teaching at all in pre-college education. I love the English language; I find it fascinating, even as a native speaker. I love reading and creative writing. I despised all my English classes throughout my entire education - at least once they evolved from learning the language to doing literature. There are several reasons for this, one of which is the utter snobbery that comes from assigning value to certain works as "literature" compared to other works which don't count as "literature." Another is being forced to read books (and other works) that I hated. Another is that "literary analysis," at least as interpreted/taught/understood by mere high school teachers (as opposed to people for whom that's their actual field of study - though I have my doubts about that, too) is complete nonsense and utterly unimportant.
    This certainly does come as a surprise. It's almost like two different people were in control of the keyboard.

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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by A.A.King View Post
    The part about STEM not receiving similar complaints has already been adressed, so let me just make this point:



    I feel there is a contradiction between these two parts, on the one hand you contend that if a certain thing hasn't been learned yet at high school age then it is a lesson that probably won't be learned yet at the same time you say minds may be opened by introducing them to things in High School.
    There's no contradiction, because I'm talking about a progression rather than a binary. Anyone who hasn't learned by the point of encountering Shakespeare that reading can be fun probably isn't going to have their minds changed by anything they read at that age. But for those who have learned that lesson, introducing them to things which are more challenging reading than they might otherwise encounter will encourage them to expand their reading beyond their obvious comfort zone.

    In my personal experience high school literature is taught by gatekeepers, by people who believe they have the right to tell you what is and isn't worth reading. You yourself do something similar by dismissing Asterix as something that is just fun. Not something that makes you really think like Shakespeare does. Now I would first argue that Asterix has probably taught more people about Julius Caesar then Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" did and I would secondly argue that the original Asterix comics were cleverly written to the point that it was no less deep than Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" (whose good bits have been ripped of so often that by the time I actually read the Shakespeare version the only new content left was nothing to write home about).
    It's not about how much you learn about history or whatever from the text you're reading. Heck, most of the Shakespeare histories that aren't completely made up are wrong anyway. I'll put it another way. Asterix has never moved me. Shakespeare has. I've been brought to the verge of tears by King Lear, and left conflicted and agitated by The Merchant of Venice.

    Mosy importantly though I would argue:

    What is the point of making that distinction?

    In this time of TV and movies I can't be the only person who grew up around people and regularly talks to people who proudly claim that they never read books. People who moved from the basic books their parents read them as a child on to binge watching TV (or never even read at home to begin with). People whose only real encounter with books are when the teacher tells them what to read, and what they get told just isn't interesting.

    Why make the distinction between high literatutr and low literature, why do so many have a complete disregard for genre fiction and why would you set-up a class to help the kid who already likes reading anyway and not set it up in such a way that the people who never touch a book mighy find something they would enjoy?

    I've heard the phrase "I'll wait for the movie to come out" too often to believe that we wouldn't help more children by having a more inclusive education system with regards to literature. Less gatekeeping, more exploring. Not "Class you must now read shakespeare" but instead "If you like that show why not try this book".
    I agree that reading anything is better than nothing, but that also doesn't mean that everything you read is as good or as worthwhile as everything else. You could teach nothing but The Very Hungry Caterpillar on the basis that everybody enjoys it and it's not going to challenge anyone, but that feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. You don't want to leave students behind completely, but equally I don't think you should always teach to the lowest common denominator just to be on the safe side.

    I agree that people should be encouraged to explore. In fact that's what I'm trying to encourage by promoting the teaching of something that students might otherwise miss out on. I don't think gatekeeping is the right word. Of course, there has to be a curriculum of some sort, because the teachers need to be familiar with the books themselves and there's only so much class time to teach a given text. If everyone just reads what they want that's almost impossible to teach effectively. Though I've never had an English teacher who hasn't encouraged me to read whatever I want in my own time - in some cases to the extent of lending me their own books - so long as I also read the set texts.

    As to the "if you liked this, try this!" approach, well sure, but that's just a question of how you introduce a book rather than what books you teach. You can easily do the same with Shakespeare. Find a roughly contemporary film that mirrors one of his plots, show that to the class and then you've got your introduction.

    I must admit that I think the first Shakespeare play you're taught does make a difference. Two of the most common ones seem to be A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I have come to like well enough, but I think is a hopeless introductory play. I can understand why Romeo and Juliet is taught but I also suspect that the teenagers it's given to are, if they identify with the central characters, identify with them all too well and thereby miss the actual point.

    When I was taught English lit, we were given some snippets of Romeo earlier on, but the first play we were taught properly was the Scottish Play, which is great. The language is relatively straightforward, it's got a great plot, a short and punchy opening scene, an obvious contemporary context that you can make sense of, a couple of great speeches, it's not too long, and the language is relatively accessible. It may not be quite his best work, but as introductory plays go it seemed to me to be about as good as they get.

    I'm sure it's not for everyone, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    You are living right now in the middle of a pandemic that requires you to understand both the basics of medical language, a subset of science, and enough statistics to understands levels of risk.

    Outside of these specifics circumstances, you also live in a country where VAT is applied to sales, you are required to pay taxes, and a huge amount of information about civil life is transmitted in the form of percentages, ratios and statistics. And basic science is required to follow the arguments for everything from personal medical treatments to energy generation and its impact in the environment and yourself.

    If you have chosen to not use "maths beyond basic arithmetic" or "any sort of science" you are failing the most basic steps to being a successful, informed citizen. And in these troubled days, you might be undertaking actions that put yourself and others at risk through wilful ignorance. Or possibly, you are actually using what you learnt at school beyond basic arithmetic, and were exaggerating for effect. Hopefully it is the latter and not the former. But in either case, it is not the fault of the schooling, which did its best to provide you with tools crucial to life in the current world.
    OK, yes, that was too much of an exaggeration, and was a result of taking a point I think I'd made earlier and dashing something off without thinking it through. I do use probabilities day to day, and knowing how to calculate a percentage is useful. Albeit neither of those are essentially arithmetical.

    With that said, the way our tax system works, you don't really have to understand it or do any calculations. VAT is quoted inclusively in the retail price, so you don't have to do the calculation exercise that you do in the US. Unless you're self-employed or have a significant capital income, tax is processed automatically and most people never have to file a tax return.

    I think I might have used geometry, or tried to use it, once in my adult life. Basic algebra (of the arithmetical variety) yes. Knowing how to draw and interpret a graph is useful. Some understanding of statistics is handy, if only so you know why most the statistics fed to you by the media are misleading (although ironically, actual statistics isn't something I was really taught).

    Everything else you mention, yes, you have a point, and although I might take issue with a couple of them I don't want to derail the thread. But I also think my education had covered everything I actually need to know about all of that to function adequately in society by the time I was thirteen. I still had to take those subjects for another two years to GCSE and very little if any of what I learned in those years has been of any real practical application.

    That the level of knowledge of those subjects that you need to function in society responsibly is capped at about what we would call Key Stage 3 is probably not a coincidence: I'm willing to bet that that's the highest level the media and government feel comfortable pitching concepts to the public that they consider the majority of people will still understand.

    Also probably not a coincidence: the same point that those subjects stopped being practically useful is the same point that in a different classroom we started to be seriously taught Shakespeare.

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    Then you are failing at reading Asterix and should have paid attention in those Shakespear classes on how to read and analyse text.

    E.g. Asterix and the Great Divide, apart from also containing Shakespear references, is a sendup up any strongly "two party" or "two block" political system. Asterix's Obelix and Co. album is a cautionary tale about how capitalism at it's worst works. Asterix and the Mansion of the Gods deals with issues of modernity vs for a better word "traditionalism". Asterix and the Goths is a primer on 19th century history and several of the albums sorta doubles as, rather stereotypical, but functioning descriptions of the bordering nations. Not all of it still holds up of course. And that's just mentioning major themes, there's a lot of minor points along the way. In Asterix in Spain we can read a rather sharp retort to modern masstourism. Finally, Asterix the Gaul (the first album) should probably, if it doens't already, form the basis of any introduction to French geography class.
    Honestly, on my most recent re-reads I've been pretty much ignoring the Uderzo-only volumes, with the exception of Black Gold. They just don't quite have "it", somehow.

    But I should perhaps have made an exception for Obelix and Co because that is a work of genius.

    I probably have learned a bit about French cultural attitudes from it. Indeed, I'm quite taken with a point I saw made a number of years ago about how much you can tell about the French national identity from Asterix comics: he's a Gaul, but he dresses like a Frank; the Romans aren't the real baddies; the affectionate (with one exception) ribbing of their neighbours, and so on.

    Nevertheless, I refer to what I said earlier in this post: I thoroughly enjoy Asterix - and its satirical edge is a large part of that - but it hasn't ever provoked an emotional response from me beyond "lol".
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by CheesePirate View Post
    O Histrionix, Histrionix! Wherefore art thou Histrionix?
    Good point - it is worth it reading Shakespeare, if only to understand the references to Shakespeare in other works.

    There is a number of books that I intend to read someday, for no reason other than the fact that they are referred in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.

    (It is actually possible this is the sole reason why I read Jane Eyre. I didn't even like Jane Eyre, but it was totally worth it. Frankly, by now, Shakespeare is a bit like {scrubbed}, you might like it or you might not, but after reading it you will at least understand what everyone else is talking about. And where all those figures of speech come from.)

    Quote Originally Posted by A.A.King View Post
    I would argue that writing everything in iambic pentameter is a perfect example of style over substance
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    I am going to take a different tack than the rest, and go back to addressing the original post.


    Okay, so who are these 'people who prefer willful ignorance?' First and foremost, do you really know that this is the case? I ask not because I have any knowledge about you, but because I see statements vaguely like this an awful lot (which, I guess, is a case of my 'number of _X_ who act like _Y_ is excessively high' anecdote going up against yours). I am well seated in middle age, beginning to see my parents turn into their parents and people of my generation turning into the same caricatures we laughed at our parents for being. One of the roles that I definitely see a lot of my peers sliding into is that guy who really loves to talk about ‘kids these days.’ How they are disrespectful, or lazy, or immature, and so forth, almost always with no actual background in what ‘kids these days’ really are like. “Why is ‘learning a bit’ apparently a complete deal-breaker for so many people?” seems to slot right in that list of things. Beyond that, I work managing a department of programmers and lawyers who are all “Highly Intelligent™®©.” People who were a really big deal amongst the A-grade-getting students in high school, are still patting themselves on the back for their SAT score (20-30 year on), and kind of are disappointed that they don’t get that kind of accolades in the adult world (except, you know, massively underchallenged and overcompensated lifestyles in a very shiny office building). The number of times I have heard condescending commentary about ‘normal’ people has made me rather suspicious of assertions about the ignorance of the masses. I am trying to explain why I am suspicious of such claims, and since I don’t know you, hopefully you don’t take this personally. However, I would like to know, do you actually know that there are vast swaths of people out there who are mistaking ‘Wherefore art thou’ as an inquiry of location, and doing so out of some form of willful ignorance?

    If there are a large number of people out there, it would be good to analyze the reasons, and/or what kind of excuses we consider acceptable. What do you think the actual reasons would be? I think Murk raised a good point about people outside the culture feeling absolutely no incentive to invest in this thing that seems like nothing but an excuse for people to mock him for not knowing it already (I have a similar position on chess – it is better for me to say, ‘yeah, I don’t play chess,’ than it would ever be to do anything less than be a grand master at it). Likewise everyone has to turn 14 sometime (or whenever it is we start teaching Shakespeare in school) and make whatever learning pitfalls one makes while learning the matter (and I do not trust anyone here’s memories on what it was like to learn this stuff for the first time. We’ve all omitted the mistakes we made to get to the understandings we’ve had now). Also joke-makers like the Bugs Bunny reference. Is there a specific criteria of people who do not know the truth of the Shakespearian word choice, and which you think to be an unacceptable reason for that ignorance?



    This certainly does come as a surprise. It's almost like two different people were in control of the keyboard.
    It probably comes down to our different sample sets, in all honesty. I live in a part of the United States where (and I'm not making this up) there is a large population of people who are actually proud of being ignorant on certain subjects. As a result, when I encounter people who are ignorant on things that require minimal effort to educate oneself on and I see no reason not to do so if one is going to be exposed to it anyway, I tend to assume they are being willfully ignorant because given my experience, that's what Occam's Razor seems to point to. It's not a "kids these days" attitude, at least for me: I'm 31, and I see this just as much among my peers and people who are older than me. I'm far from being a genius (I did well in school, but that's hardly a reliable indicator of overall intelligence, and to use D&D terms I will openly admit my WIS is much lower than my INT), but the number of "stupid people" around me is astounding. There are two main explanations I can think of for that: either I'm a lot smarter than I think I am, or they aren't actually as stupid as they appear to be to me. The only way the second one could be true (which I figure it probably is) is for the ignorance to be willful. And given that I do encounter a lot of people being very obviously willfully ignorant on certain subjects, that's my go-to assumption for why people are ignorant about easy-to-self-educate-on things. The reasons behind why they would prefer to remain ignorant don't change that it's willful ignorance, and were actually what I was asking the "why" about (which, as you've noted yourself, a couple people have actually provided!). The rant was in frustration, but that doesn't mean "why?!" was purely rhetorical, after all.

    With regard to your last line: I hope that wasn't an accusation but rather just an expression of how surprising you found it. I'm the only one with access to either this computer or my account on this website. But perhaps a clarification is in order: force-feeding people specific things stemming from elitist and useless criteria is, in my perspective, a WORLD of a difference from expecting people to be active in self-educating on the things they encounter. The latter is something I think is natural and essential, and those who lack that automatic self-education are assumed to be willfully ignorant by me, because why else would they not self-educate in this day and age of easy access to practically limitless information? The former is appalling to me and a large part of why I hate English Literature classes. Shakespeare, while the subject that dominates this thread, is not specifically the issue I was complaining about; it was merely the example that encountering an instance of recently made me want to rant.

    As I've mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I grew up in a family environment where the default to encountering the unknown was to seek understanding, not to dismiss. Just because I think a certain subject isn't worth inflicting on high school students doesn't mean I don't value the purposeful accumulation of knowledge that has no obvious essential practical application.
    I'm currently writing a story, titled "Zenith: Another World Saga."

    It's a fantasy/adventure story. Here's the summary:

    When I opened my eyes, I was in a fantasy world. I quickly discovered that it functioned off of game-like rules (levels, EXP, skills, and so on). Taking the name Zenith, I decided to make the best of my new world and live as an adventurer aiming for the top together with my new best friend Rozenskye. And I might be functionally immortal? An Isekai-style story.

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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    Good point - it is worth it reading Shakespeare, if only to understand the references to Shakespeare in other works.
    For me it certainly was :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    It probably comes down to our different sample sets, in all honesty. I live in a part of the United States where (and I'm not making this up) there is a large population of people who are actually proud of being ignorant on certain subjects. As a result, when I encounter people who are ignorant on things that require minimal effort to educate oneself on and I see no reason not to do so if one is going to be exposed to it anyway, I tend to assume they are being willfully ignorant because given my experience, that's what Occam's Razor seems to point to. It's not a "kids these days" attitude, at least for me: I'm 31, and I see this just as much among my peers and people who are older than me. I'm far from being a genius (I did well in school, but that's hardly a reliable indicator of overall intelligence, and to use D&D terms I will openly admit my WIS is much lower than my INT), but the number of "stupid people" around me is astounding. There are two main explanations I can think of for that: either I'm a lot smarter than I think I am, or they aren't actually as stupid as they appear to be to me. The only way the second one could be true (which I figure it probably is) is for the ignorance to be willful. And given that I do encounter a lot of people being very obviously willfully ignorant on certain subjects, that's my go-to assumption for why people are ignorant about easy-to-self-educate-on things. The reasons behind why they would prefer to remain ignorant don't change that it's willful ignorance, and were actually what I was asking the "why" about (which, as you've noted yourself, a couple people have actually provided!). The rant was in frustration, but that doesn't mean "why?!" was purely rhetorical, after all.

    Oh, willful ignorance definitely is an extremely widespread problem nowadays.

    People take pride in and cultivate their ignorance. They choose to believe things that directly contradict not just scientific research but common sense and obvious observation.

    The amounts of brain energy invested in maintaining this willful ignorance must be enormous. For in quite a lot of cases, it is maintained even while they have things explained to them again and again. (Though at some point, willfully ignorant people react with aggression to being confronted with the facts which they so passionately ignore - they feel their ignorance threatened and lash out.)

    It is a strange phenomenon, and refusing to understand what Shakespeare means with "wherefore" is only the very tip of the iceberg.

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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    It probably comes down to our different sample sets, in all honesty. I live in a part of the United States where (and I'm not making this up) there is a large population of people who are actually proud of being ignorant on certain subjects. As a result, when I encounter people who are ignorant on things that require minimal effort to educate oneself on and I see no reason not to do so if one is going to be exposed to it anyway, I tend to assume they are being willfully ignorant because given my experience, that's what Occam's Razor seems to point to. It's not a "kids these days" attitude, at least for me: I'm 31, and I see this just as much among my peers and people who are older than me.
    Shamefully, same here. I also am in my 30's and I personally see it much less in children than in people my age, though. I think the kids will be alright. Wasn't it Arthur C. Clarke who said something like, "Americans think democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge"?
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    It probably comes down to our different sample sets, in all honesty. I live in a part of the United States where (and I'm not making this up) there is a large population of people who are actually proud of being ignorant on certain subjects. As a result, when I encounter people who are ignorant on things that require minimal effort to educate oneself on and I see no reason not to do so if one is going to be exposed to it anyway, I tend to assume they are being willfully ignorant because given my experience, that's what Occam's Razor seems to point to. It's not a "kids these days" attitude, at least for me: I'm 31, and I see this just as much among my peers and people who are older than me. I'm far from being a genius (I did well in school, but that's hardly a reliable indicator of overall intelligence, and to use D&D terms I will openly admit my WIS is much lower than my INT), but the number of "stupid people" around me is astounding. There are two main explanations I can think of for that: either I'm a lot smarter than I think I am, or they aren't actually as stupid as they appear to be to me. The only way the second one could be true (which I figure it probably is) is for the ignorance to be willful. And given that I do encounter a lot of people being very obviously willfully ignorant on certain subjects, that's my go-to assumption for why people are ignorant about easy-to-self-educate-on things. The reasons behind why they would prefer to remain ignorant don't change that it's willful ignorance, and were actually what I was asking the "why" about (which, as you've noted yourself, a couple people have actually provided!). The rant was in frustration, but that doesn't mean "why?!" was purely rhetorical, after all.
    I'm never quite sure about this sort of thing. Obviously, you've put "stupid people" in inverted commas so I presume you're aware of it but I have come to learn that there is a big difference between stupidity and ignorance. Back in my days as a labourer, I encountered a number of people who had no education to speak of and no real knowledge or interest in a lot of things which I might assume were common knowledge, but were still as sharp as a tack. They were clearly clever, not even in a way I might somewhat patronisingly call "cunning", but their whole frame of reference was so different to mine, whether through lack of exposure, opportunity or motivation, that it would have been easy to write them off as "stupid" at first glance. On the other hand I've also encountered a lot of people in other fields where you'd expect a level of intelligence (the professions, principally) who look and talk the part but once you dig a bit deeper are actually quite stupid.

    It's also surprising sometimes the gaps you find in the "common knowledge" of otherwise intelligent people. A friend of mine at work, after she got engaged, became concerned that the diamond on her ring would get scratched because she kept bumping it in to things. After he blinked a couple of times, another colleague reassured her that her diamond was much more likely to scratch whatever it bumped into than vice versa. I have no concerns about her intelligence otherwise; that piece of information just somehow passed her by. But if that were the only interaction I had had with her, I might have formed the impression that she was a total dunce.

    Of course, on building sites I also met people who were mind-bendingly thick, to the point I marvelled at how they were able to function at all. And this isn't "a different kind of intelligence" or "high-WIS, low-INT" or even "has a mental disability", this was just straightforward, wholesale density of a near-gravitational level. Because of my background, upbringing, education, social circle, etc. I had never met anyone quite like that before - and I suspect there are a lot more of them around than one might suspect.

    I'm not sure what my point there was going to be, but... Anyway. It might be you. But it might also not be you. At least some of the time.


    One thing that is definitely true is that "young people" are absolutely no worse than older generations in any of the respects we've been talking about in this thread, although they might at times be more irritating. It's one of the reasons that I grind my teeth a bit at well-intentioned but nevertheless condescending attempts to make things "accessible" and "youth-friendly" not just by strewing X-treem Kool Letterz everywhere or dropping clanging references to pop culture du jour (or more commonly d'hier) - or really any Legz Akimbo style shenanigans - but by straightforward dumbing down. There might absolutely be better ways of educating young people than we have previously tried but they shouldn't be underestimated, whether in terms of attention span, motivation, intelligence, openness to new ideas, morality, or whatever, and by doing so, it doesn't do anyone any favours.
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    With regard to your last line: I hope that wasn't an accusation but rather just an expression of how surprising you found it.
    Nope, definitely the latter. Your follow up posts have seemed very distinct from your initial and early ones, to the point of seeming like a different viewpoint. Also, I should mention, going a long way towards making me feel better about this whole thing.

    As I've mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I grew up in a family environment where the default to encountering the unknown was to seek understanding, not to dismiss.
    Indeed, you have, and it was the #1 thing pinging my radar towards wondering if this was self-congratulatory back-patting (which, again, your later posts have helped convince me otherwise). This is the kind of thing I have seen brought up by those two groups I mentioned as sensitizing me towards various groups creating in their own minds vast swathes of buffoonish normies to make themselves feel superior. It slots in with giving oneself an 18 Int in a 'what would your attributes be?' type thread, or the person bemoans, 'we used to live in an age when facts and logic and good arguments meant something' after not-successfully convincing others in a debate, as warning signs in online comments towards that suspicion.

    I think we've delved perfectly deeply in what was supposed to be a minor side point about my credulity.

    perhaps a clarification is in order: force-feeding people specific things stemming from elitist and useless criteria is, in my perspective, a WORLD of a difference from expecting people to be active in self-educating on the things they encounter. The latter is something I think is natural and essential, and those who lack that automatic self-education are assumed to be willfully ignorant by me, because why else would they not self-educate in this day and age of easy access to practically limitless information?
    If we don't know why these people do make this decision (or, for that matter, whether they do at all, which again I think oftentimes we do not know), then it is missing data, and we should not be making assumptions about it. Imputation on missing data is a study onto itself, and one that would hopefully be brought to bear upon a statistical analysis of peoples' self-education tendencies.

    The former is appalling to me and a large part of why I hate English Literature classes. Shakespeare, while the subject that dominates this thread, is not specifically the issue I was complaining about; it was merely the example that encountering an instance of recently made me want to rant.
    I somehow gathered, and I'm sure the nitpicking over the specifics has been frustrating.

    Just because I think a certain subject isn't worth inflicting on high school students doesn't mean I don't value the purposeful accumulation of knowledge that has no obvious essential practical application.
    I think people have rightly pointed out that the expectation that others will take a significant interest in any specific (English Language) accumulation of knowledge is pretty arbitrary (but as you say, it was just an example). However, I agree that a curiosity about knowledge in general, is a positive trait. If for no other reason than it fosters a capacity (because learning is a skill, which can be enhanced through practice) to learn other things when they do have a practical application. However, I suppose that makes it a practical reason. As far as justification goes, I can think of two reasons why the accumulation of knowledge is a goodly endeavor -- practical application, and personal fulfillment. If there is no practical application (again, if any learning fosters increased ability, then perhaps this cannot be), and a person finds no fulfillment in the learning, I'm not sure I can justify why someone ought to or should be doing any specific learning.

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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    The arts and humanities are valued for helping enjoy our own lives. The maths and sciences are valued for helping improving everyone's lives. That's the difference. Both should be taught. One should be much more emphasized and mandated at all levels until higher ed. And, conveniently enough, that's largely how the system is set up.
    The humanities are absolutely valuable for far more than helping us enjoy our own lives. There's a reason we have that famous quote about those who don't know history being doomed to repeat it - history, and to a lesser extent literature, are both useful to try and understand how the world works broadly, which is absolutely critical when making decisions in those worlds. Both are also frequently used as test grounds for text analysis, source analysis, etc., all of which are valuable skills. A deeper practice of that sort of analysis within a population helps make them more resistant to propoganda, misinformation from dubious news sources, and especially specious predictive arguments for policy outcomes. People are people, and understanding how people have acted in the past is absolutely useful for understanding how people will act in the present.
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    The humanities are absolutely valuable for far more than helping us enjoy our own lives. There's a reason we have that famous quote about those who don't know history being doomed to repeat it - history, and to a lesser extent literature, are both useful to try and understand how the world works broadly, which is absolutely critical when making decisions in those worlds. Both are also frequently used as test grounds for text analysis, source analysis, etc., all of which are valuable skills. A deeper practice of that sort of analysis within a population helps make them more resistant to propoganda, misinformation from dubious news sources, and especially specious predictive arguments for policy outcomes. People are people, and understanding how people have acted in the past is absolutely useful for understanding how people will act in the present.
    A.) Yes, there is a famous quote about those who don't know history being doomed to repeat it. And yet those with knowledge of history seem to repeat it regardless, throughout history (and sometimes even gleefully)*. A quote being famous is different than a quote being true.
    2.) At no point have I knocked the humanities being taught. I have knocked one specific subset of one specific part of the humanities as being needlessly glorified for its own sake and being effectively mandated across all school systems at a level that I believe is not necessarily appropriate.

    *I will not be providing examples.
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    There's a reason we have that famous quote about those who don't know history being doomed to repeat it
    So that's how the trick with the monkeys with typewriters work. They don't know Shakespeare's works, so they're doomed to repeat them.
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    So that's how the trick with the monkeys with typewriters work. They don't know Shakespeare's works, so they're doomed to repeat them.
    Well now, that is a really convincing argument for not teaching Shakespeare: We might thereby get a second one.


    In my experience, young people are just as, or even more enthusiastic about being wilfully ignorant as older people, the only things that change are the things they choose to remain ignorant about.

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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    2.) At no point have I knocked the humanities being taught. I have knocked one specific subset of one specific part of the humanities as being needlessly glorified for its own sake and being effectively mandated across all school systems at a level that I believe is not necessarily appropriate.
    Shakespeare specifically is a largely arbitrary source - it's specifically the claim that humanities are taught for the self that I'm pushing back against here. Critical thinking is broadly useful. Assessment of source reliability and bias is broadly useful. Knowledge of history (especially in terms of deeper historical forces and not just names and dates) are useful - and I'd be happy to cite specifics if they didn't tend to get really political really quickly.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Shakespeare specifically is a largely arbitrary source - it's specifically the claim that humanities are taught for the self that I'm pushing back against here. Critical thinking is broadly useful. Assessment of source reliability and bias is broadly useful.
    Fair. I may have shot from the hip and aimed too wide on that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Knowledge of history (especially in terms of deeper historical forces and not just names and dates) are useful - and I'd be happy to cite specifics if they didn't tend to get really political really quickly.
    Aye, it's no coincidence I pointedly refused to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
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    Default Re: Shakespearean English, or "Why is misunderstanding easier than learning?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    With opera, the problem is that theaters are only showing old stuff. This means that no one has any interest in writing opera. So you are left with "oldies", which become increasingly démodé. It's a vicious cycle, and it isn't exclusive to opera; theatre has a similar problem. It's a good way to kill an art form.

    On the other side, you have competition: from African-derived music becoming the preferred choice over classical, and also home entertainment vs going to the theater. The blues-jazz-swing-rock-pop-metal thing in particular doesn't just attract listeners, it attracts artists, too, so you have another vicious cycle: fewer artists means fewer listeners means less money means fewer artists...

    So theaters are putting much effort into killing themselves, but, even if they weren't, they are also against serious competition.
    There's also that something like opera is fairly popular, and actively written: musicals, from Broadway (or off it) to billion-dollar Disney films or one-off Buffy episodes.

    As for education, I figure that simplistically, primary education is to teach you how to learn and think (read, write, basic math); secondary education expands on that but also exposes you to lots of different topics. Not all of them will be interesting or useful to everyone, but we can at least guarantee *exposure* and the chance of something 'catching'. Native language literature is one of those topics, both for technical analysis (related to the old trivium topic, 'rhetoric') and for getting exposed to the literature and culture itself.

    Of course there's a ton of stuff to choose from, so what to use will be somewhat arbitrary. I don't actually have a strong opinion on whether all English-language high schoolers should have Shakespeare, or Shakespeare in the original. Given four years to kill, probably yes, at least seeing a good performance or two. And if high school mandatory English lit includes poetry, he'll probably pop up there too. But maybe not a *ton* of Shakespeare, like a whole 10 week term.

    The math sequence is another matter. If we're going for widest citizen usefulness, I would go for arithmetic, algebra, probability, and descriptive statistics (median/mean/mode, how to read graphs, how graphs can deceive you, etc.) The first two are basically literacy -- you can't really get any further in math without being comfortable with algebra -- and probability can be universally useful, even if most people don't use it. Somewhere between arithmetic and algebra you should make sure to cover exponential growth and logarithms, and try for different bases, the difference between numbers and numerals.

    Also, proofs, because there's a powerful mental tool, and sometimes fun.

    Also, Fermi problems, because they're useful and fun.

    The actual academic sequence I'm familiar with is algebra, geometry (with possibly the only exposure to proofs if you have a bad education) (and including both the really useful "area and volumes of things" and the less useful "Euclidean proofs with compass and straightedge"), "algebra II"/trigonometry, pre-calculus (conic sections and ???), calculus if they get that far. Which isn't terrible for STEM track but does end up overkill for a lot of people, and doesn't include probability at all. And if you fall behind, or have a bad teacher, than the whole rest of the sequence can become a mandatory slog of "I hate math" or "I'm bad at math".

    If you do go into science or engineering, the big three seem to be linear algebra, differential equations, and inferential statistics. So you need solid algebra, and calculus, and trigonometry because trig functions are everywhere at this level, and some amount of geometry to appreciate the trig functions. But side-angle-side theorems don't matter much. Except maybe for doing the trig proofs, I dunno.

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