Friday 23 February 2018

One third of UK schoolchildren clueless about Shakespeare

David Mercer London

HE may be the most famous writer in history, but almost a third of schoolchildren under 13 do not know who William Shakespeare is.

Hundreds of pupils from schools across the UK took part in a study to discover whether they knew of the playwright.

The survey, which involved 1,000 pupils aged between six and 12, revealed that 30pc are unaware of the country's most celebrated writer.

Around a quarter of adults (27pc) have never read a play by Shakespeare and around one in eight (12pc) are unaware that he was a British playwright, researchers also found.

A number of stars of stage and screen have now backed calls for a rethink of how Shakespeare's classic works are taught to young people.

Actor Jeremy Irons said: "I think so many people are put off Shakespeare at school and like so much of drama, you have to see it in order to be moved by it."

Paterson Joseph, who has played the role of 'Othello', said: "The classroom setting is probably, in my opinion, the worst place to come to Shakespeare first because Shakespeare never intended his works to be read in a classroom."

'Avengers Assemble' star Tom Hiddleston, famed for his Shakespearean roles, said: "Shakespeare is at its best when you speak it like you're making it up."

The survey also questioned 2,000 adults, showing that half (49pc) are unable to complete the line: "O Romeo, Romeo ..." from 'Romeo and Juliet' with: "wherefore art thou Romeo?"

The study, by market researchers Vision Critical, found that 5pc of people aged 18 to 34 believe Shakespeare's most famous play is 'Cinderella', while 2pc from the same age group think he is a fictional character.

Meanwhile, 63pc learnt about Shakespeare through television and not school or other traditional educational outlets.

The research has been published as 'The Hollow Crown' is released on DVD, featuring Shakespeare's 'Richard II', 'Henry IV' parts one and two and 'Henry V'.

Irish Independent

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