What fools these professors be!

27th April 2001 at 01:00
I support Howard Brenton's excellent response to Professor Sig Prais's attack on Shakespeare in the curriculum ("Don't let think-tanks exterminate the bard", TES, April 6).

For the past 30 years I have been using Shakespeare to enhance the learning and language environment of my pupils, most of whom come from a bilingual south Asian cultural background.

Shakespeare's work is not only a wonderful source of stories but also raises issues that have a fundamental bearing on the human situation and spirit, as Mr Brenton describes vividly in his article. Perhaps individuals like Professor Prais, who appear burdened with a "functional" attitude to learning, find Shakespeare's capacity to do this a bit subversive. His desire for school-leaves to enter the workforce programmed for their economic roles wouldn't sit comfortably with this idea, I suppose.

Shakespeare's characters, plots and language have fired the imaginations of my pupils and stimulated creative work of the highest quality in both oracy and literacy, as well as in art.

Bilingual pupils have a particular aptitude for Shakespeare and his language because of their natural code-switching skills. Their ability to move from English, into Punjabi or Bengali, for example, and then into Shakespearean English, is remarkable.

Far from "damaging less able children", exploring Shakespeare can be an utterly transforming experience.

Alex Fellowes

154 Boothroyd Lane

Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

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