Scott Newstok urges class of 2020 to think like Shakespeare

Scott L. Newstok, in his recent article “How to Think Like Shakespeare” published in The Chronicle this week, addresses the class of 2020. The class of 2020, after all, is the first to graduate from high school and earn a degree largely based on testing without other alternatives.

Newstok writes to the class of 2020:

“[…] the most momentous event in your intellectual formation was the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which ushered in our disastrous fixation on testing. Your generation is the first to have gone through primary and secondary school knowing no alternative to a national regimen of assessment. And your professors are only now beginning to realize how this unrelenting assessment has stunted your imaginations.

The problem with an educational strategy that proves its success based on testing is that “the joy of reading [is] too often reduced to extracting content without context, the joy of mathematics to arbitrary exercises, without the love of pattern-making that generates conjecture in the first place.”

The answer?

Newstock urges the class of 2020 to practice thinking like Shakespeare in college:

“I urge you to reconsider Shakespeare’s intellectual formation: that is, not what he purportedly thought — about law or love or leadership — but how he thought. An apparently rigid educational system could, paradoxically, induce liberated thinking.”

And to the critics who would urge students in other directions? Newstock again directs them to Shakespeare:

“When [Shakespeare] was born, there wasn’t yet a professional theater in London. In other words, his education had prepared him for a job that didn’t even exist. You should be encouraged to learn that this has been true for every generation: Four of today’s largest companies did not exist when I was born, 43 years ago. One of them, Apple, was co-founded by someone who said that the most important topic he ever studied was not engineering but calligraphy.

In short, the best way for you to prepare for the unforeseen future is to learn how to think intensively and imaginatively.

You can read the full article here:

One thought on “Scott Newstok urges class of 2020 to think like Shakespeare

  1. Me Newstok, is there a way to obtain your article about how to think like Shakespeare without subscribing to the Chronicle for upwards of almost $100 a year? With your blessing, I had intended to have my bookclub read and discuss this most thought-provoking article. I hope we can do so !

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