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What is the Place for Shakespeare in Today's Alberta English Language Arts Curriculum? Open Access


Other title
English Literature Text Selection
Teaching Shakespeare
Alberta Senior High Language Arts Curriculum
High School English Language Arts
Alberta English Language Arts Required Authors
Alberta Senior High English Language Arts Program of Study
Teacher Perspectives on Teaching Shakespeare
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chow, Stephanie Guoxin
Supervisor and department
Johnston, Ingrid (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Wiltse, Lynne (Elementary Education)
Johnston, Ingrid (Secondary Education)
Iveson, Marg (Secondary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Education
Degree level
Since the establishment of the Alberta High School English Language Arts Program of Studies, the genre of the Shakespearean drama has always been a required component in the curriculum document. In addition, English 30-1 students must complete a series of reading comprehension questions on a Shakespearean passage, as part of a standardized diploma exam. As a graduate of the Alberta High School Diploma Program, and now a teacher of the English Language Arts High School Program of Studies, I was intrigued by the impact Shakespeare had in Language Arts curriculum, education and pedagogy. As an educator, I have witnessed many students struggle with understanding the language of Shakespeare and the context of his works, as well as students who found the study of Shakespeare to be the most intriguing and rewarding part of their high school English journey. As the only required author in the current Alberta Program of Studies, I found myself asking how such works from so long ago could be relevant to our changing classroom demographic and promotion of multi-literacies in the 21st-century. However, I am neither arguing for nor against the teaching of Shakespeare’s plays altogether, but have explored whether English teachers in Alberta agree that he should be the only required author in the curriculum. Through their responses, I attempted to determine to what extent the rationale for teaching Shakespeare was still consistent, and if given the option, what the high school English Language Arts educators would opt to teach in lieu of Shakespeare. Based on the responses of my teacher participants, it is clear that they would continue to teach Shakespeare even if his works were no longer mandatory in the curriculum. They also recognize that an educator should have valid reasons for selecting his plays, as they do other works, rather than simply adhering to mandates.
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