Why Students Should Think Like Shakespeare

Alexander C. Kafka in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“You’ve been cheated of your birthright: a complete education.”

So Scott Newstok warned the Class of 2020 in a convocation speech four years ago. Newstok, who teaches literature at Rhodes College, where he also directs the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment, urged students to strive for “a level of precision, inventiveness, and empathy worthy to be called Shakespearean.”

That speech led to an essay and now to a book, How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons From a Renaissance Education, which Princeton University Press will publish in April. In it, Newstok considers what the Bard’s copious intellect and imagination might tell us about the potential and failures of our educational system. In doing so, he cites a wide array of thinkers — not just Shakespeare but ancient Greek philosophers, Mary Shelley, Hannah Arendt, Maya Angelou, Bob Dylan, and scores of others. That serves as a written meta-performance that illustrates Newstok’s point: Discovering how others think is the best way to learn how to think for ourselves.

Newstok explained to The Chronicle why he approached the book in that way, how writing it influenced his teaching, and how educational reforms leave every child behind.

More here.