They've Come for Shakespeare

(Joe Giddens / PA via AP)

It hasn’t been a good year for the profession of teaching, and in many parts of the country, that’s a completely self-inflicted wound. Left-wing teachers’ unions have refused to open schools amid more than enough data that doing so is safe. They’ve used irrational, disproven claims about COVID and the current risk profile as their excuse to sit home and collect taxpayer money.

You’d think in the midst of that, the most woke teachers among us would just take a break for a while, but the left always marches forward. Thus, they are canceling Shakespeare now.

A growing number of ‘woke’ academics are refusing to teach Shakespeare in U.S. schools, arguing that the Bard promotes racism, white supremacy and intolerance, and instead are pushing for the teaching of ‘modern’ alternatives.

Writing in the January issue of School Library Journal, Amanda MacGregor, a Minnesota-based librarian, bookseller and freelance journalist, asked why teachers were continuing to include Shakespeare in their classrooms.

‘Shakespeare’s works are full of problematic, outdated ideas, with plenty of misogyny, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism and misogynoir,’ she wrote, with the last word referring to a hatred of black women.

Apparently, what the world really needs is less Shakespeare and more woke lecturing from self-righteous educators who can’t grasp that a lack of moral perfection in people that died 400 years ago does not negate the importance of their work. By the flawed logic presented by the litany of teachers listed in The Daily Mail’s piece, you can’t teach George Washington either, which would normally sound insane, but that’s exactly what’s where we are already headed. This train has no end of the line. No one will ever truly be pure enough.

Here’s the reasoning of one teacher named Liz Matthews.

‘I replaced Romeo and Juliet with The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros last year, and Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds this year,’ she said.

Mango Street was published in 1984; Long Way Down was published in 2017. Romeo and Juliet was first published in 1597.

‘Simply put the authors and characters of the two new books look and sound like my students, and they can make realistic connections,’ Matthews said. ‘Representation matters.’

And here I thought historical literature was supposed to expose us to thought processes and cultural aspects that aren’t commonly present in our own time. Why not just have these kids watch Tik-Tok videos all day if the goal is to only expose students to things that sound like them and that they can make “realistic connections” to? I’m sure someone badly dancing to Cardi B is more culturally relevant to your average 10th grader than Shakespeare. But again, that completely misses the point of reading, learning, and truly examining works of art outside of one’s own time and cultural frame.

Where this all ends is with a bunch of brain-washed, ignorant kids that have no grasp of history or fact, instead mindlessly clinging to the woke proclamations of whoever is claiming moral authority that day. It’s a terrible way to teach children. Unfortunately, parents sat by for so long that the educational complex now holds incredible power over this kind of thing, and they won’t be quick to relinquish it. It’s going to take a grassroots, ground up, local effort to retake control of the system.