In Atlanta, students who are “on track to attend college” but have “poor reading skills” are reading Shakespeare without Shakespearean language. Study guides translate Shakespeare into pedestrian modern English, so students don’t have to struggle.
Leon Allen, a student in Kollias’ class, didn’t understand the original line. But he read the translated sentence aloud with ease.
“It’s nice because all those ancient words aren’t there,” he said. “It is a cool story — what with people making plans to kill one another. It can be difficult because everyone has strange names, but at least it isn’t using any of those old words anymore.”
In one version, “Beware the ides of March” in Julius Caesar becomes “Beware of March 15.”
Billy Bob Shakespeare is better than nothing, says Cobranchi.
I keep wondering about students who are incapable of reading Shakespearean language yet are considered “on track to attend college.” How can they do college-level work if they can’t figure out “lend me your ears” isn’t about organ transplants? Maybe they’ll just “attend” college but not actually pass any courses.
I remember the joy I experienced when I realized that Shakespeare’s “hautboys” were oboes and that the word comes from haut bois or high wood. That was so cool.