Teachers accuse Shakespeare test of destroying passion for literature

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Testing 14-year-olds on Shakespeare will bury the bard rather than encourage his work to be appreciated by a generation of schoolchildren, ATL delegates said.

Testing 14-year-olds on Shakespeare will bury the bard rather than encourage his work to be appreciated by a generation of schoolchildren, ATL delegates said.

Under the tests, 14-year-olds will be questioned on just two sections of two scenes of one Shakespeare play – instead of the text as a whole. Participants at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference in Blackpool said yesterday it would lead to teachers "teaching to the test" rather than allowing pupils to study the text as a whole in class. Previously, pupils sitting Shakespeare national curriculum tests have been given questions on a choice of scenes.

Michael Catty, from Hertfordshire, told the conference: "The test is flawed because it is damaging the education generally. There has been unanimous concern from teachers about the nature and content of these tests. How can you ever hope to get pupils to look at a Shakespeare play ever again? This flawed test will destroy interest in literature."

He said the tests, which had been extended to three and a half hours this year, would "reduce the exam to an exercise in grammar" rather than create a love of Shakespeare.

"The new test is educationally damaged because it will reinforce the deplorable action of teaching to the test," he said. "The work on Shakespeare it will lead to will be worthless."

Delegates decided against calling for a boycott of the tests next year after being told by the union's solicitor, Philip Lott, that he could give them only a qualified assurance that the action would be legal. "It is highly dangerous to take industrial action on an issue that's deemed political or – sadly – educational," he told the conference.

Comments