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Thoughts On And For A Structured Existence

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William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Inventive And Elusive Critique Of The Church During The 16th Century English Reformation

BBC Radio 3 recently presented the podcast “Shakespeare: Religion and Clerics“, featuring the Richard Chartres, the Anglican Bishop of London and Professor Ewan Fernie of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham.

Playwrights, during the reigns of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and James I (1603-1625), were prohibited by Royal Proclamation from writing about religious matters on the stage. So history’s greatest English writer innovates.

King Lear   Take physic, pomp. Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, That thou mayst shake the superflux to them And show the heavens more just.

Bishop Chartres recites a passage where “King Lear”, no longer in his castle, calls on powerful men (“the Church”!) to embrace “compassion” and “fairness” in his Orson Welles-like voice:

People were commanded to take sides in the great divide between Protestants and Catholics, or risk death. Chartres discusses Shakespeare’s message, asking the audience to “go beyond those antagonisms” to “search for a truth that is elusive”, “and only is revealed if you look from various angles and perspectives”.

The presenter, Rana Mitter, and Professor Fernie discuss Shakespeare’s use of Falstaff to parody religious actions lacking conviction:

Falstaff  To die is to be a counterfit

To “Counterfeit” is “to stage resurrection on the Shakespearean stage”, “linked to the second life of an actor playing another part”, as in acting the part of a born-again Christian. Hypocrites never “feel what wretches feel”.

Public Education: Can Individual Excellence Reform Mediocracy?

   Nadia Lopez, Principal and Founder of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in 2010, a public middle school focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in “one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods” in Brooklyn, NY, is battling a true Shakespearean array of toil and trouble: The Public Education Mediocracy. Mediocracy Definition

In her newly released book “The Bridge To Brilliance”, she “faces challenging students, exhausted parents, overwhelmed teachers, and low test scores“. The true nemesis is a culture of low expectations and despair that defines many public schools in America.

She calls her students “scholars”, challenging teachers, parents, community and educational establishment to be engaged and accountable. She asks:

“How are you making the difference in the lives of children?”

Ms. Lopez is on the front line of education, motivating and inspiring students each day, leading  them on a path to college and lifetime success.

The NEA, the guardian of the status quo, provided a nice quote by the poet William Butler Yeats for its 2016 American Education Week:

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

Ms. Lopez would agree, but would add a little Mahatma Gandhi:

The future depends on what you do today.

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