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Teacher: We Shouldn’t Teach Shakespeare Because He’s White

16.06.2015  |  00:08
Teacher: We Shouldn’t Teach Shakespeare Because He’s White

In a piece for the Washington Post, Dana Dusbiber, a white English teacher in Sacramento, says she’s done teaching Shakespeare because he’s white

In a piece for the Washington Post, Dana Dusbiber, a white English teacher in Sacramento, says she’s done teaching Shakespeare because he’s white. Her argument: minority students deserve to learn from people of “diverse” cultural heritages, but white students need to be exposed to cultures other than their own.

Though Shakespeare has long been considered to feature the English language in its highest expression and has been praised for his ability to address a remarkable range of human emotions that crosses cultural boundaries, Dusbiber argues that it’s time to move on:

I do not believe that a long-dead, British guy is the only writer who can teach my students about the human condition. […] I am sad that so many of my colleagues teach a canon that some white people decided upon so long ago and do it without question. […] 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.

In place of the “long dead, British guy,

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” Dusbiber proposes substituting translations of “early writing and oral storytelling” from other cultures that she argues is equivalent to the literary value of the bard:

So I ask, why not teach the oral tradition out of Africa, which includes an equally relevant commentary on human behavior? Why not teach translations of early writings or oral storytelling from Latin America or Southeast Asia other parts of the world? Many, many of our students come from these languages and traditions. Why do our students not deserve to study these “other” literatures with equal time and value? And if time is the issue in our classrooms, perhaps we no longer have the time to study the Western canon that so many of us know and hold dear.

Teacher: We Shouldn’t Teach Shakespeare Because He’s White. 653.jpegAlong with her own admitted difficulty reading his archaic English, Dusbiber argued that the most important rationale behind throwing off Shakespeare was the need for high school education to combat the evils of “Eurocentrism”:

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. Conversely, if we only teach white students, it is our imperative duty to open them up to a world of diversity through literature that they may never encounter anywhere else in their lives.




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