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Dana Dusbiber, a high school English teacher, refuses to teach Shakespeare in her “very ethnically-diverse” classroom. Dusbiber wrote an editorial defending her decision, published in The Washington Post:
I do not believe that I am “cheating” my students because we do not read Shakespeare. I do not believe that a long-dead, British guy is the only writer who can teach my students about the human condition.
What I worry about is that as long as we continue to cling to ONE (white) MAN’S view of life as he lived it so long ago, we (perhaps unwittingly) promote the notion that other cultural perspectives are less important.
Here then, is my argument: If we only teach students of color, as I have been fortunate to do my entire career, then it is far past the time for us to dispense with our Eurocentric presentation of the literary world.
Of course, other teachers disagree with Dusbiber’s assessment. Matthew Truesdale, an English teacher from Piedmont, SC, responded:
Dana Dusbiber does a disservice to teachers and particularly those of us who teach English when she makes the argument that Shakespeare should be left to “rest in peace.”
I often tell my students that one of the main reasons to read a Shakespeare play is simply for the privilege of telling others you’ve read a Shakespeare play. In certain arenas, being able to carry on even a brief conversation about a plot point from King Lear is important and can give one credibility.
Shakespeare is more than just a “long dead British guy,” and I believe he has much to teach us about the modern human condition.
This isn’t the first time Shakespeare has been removed from the classroom. In 2012, public schools in Arizona removed The Tempest. It most assuredly won’t be the last. Whether Shakespeare and other texts should or should not be taught in the classroom is really the minutia of the larger school choice debate.
Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, defines education as: “The pursuit of knowledge, virtue, beauty, and happiness.” To this end, parents should be directing their own children’s education, reviewing what curricula is taught and how their children would be best empowered to pursue a quality education.