I was not happy when Shakespearean plays were removed from Bhutanese education curriculum. As a student of English literature, I had loved his works so much because they had so much to offer in terms of human values, wisdom and extraordinary ideas through the experiences, behaviours and actions of the characters. In 2005 while appearing for the Civil Service Common Examinations, I was asked during the viva interview what was my reaction to the decision of the Ministry of Education to exclude Shakespearean plays from Bhutanese curriculum. My response was similar to what His Majesty the King had expressed during his interaction with the Royal Education Council yesterday. I told them that Shakespearean works contain great philosophies and principles of life which are still very much relevant and applicable, but sadly, the present generation is being deprived of this privilege. I insisted that although people might find his language difficult, there are a lot of practical lessons we can learn from each of his plays. He was a genius and a great self-taught philosopher who has influenced millions of people across the globe over the years. I argued that at least a few of his most notable works should be taught in our schools if we want our children to understand the real essence of English literature. But I was challenged by a panel-member who justified that the decision to remove Shakespeare from the school curriculum was to include a more variety of other forms of literature. At the end, I had to agree.
However, a friend of mine told me that when His Majesty the King granted audience to the officials of Royal Education Council (REC) yesterday, he also shared the same concern. He told me that His Majesty the King was concerned that today’s children are missing the real beauty of literature after Shakespearean works have been removed from our schools. I am so impressed that even His Majesty the King has been in so much love with Shakespeare. It seems His Majesty clearly understands the real underlying power of Shakespeare’s plays and its positive influences on people especially those who are young. His Majesty the King also believes that Shakespeare was not an ordinary soul and his works are filled with rich philosophies which can have a lot of positive impact on young minds. The concerned officials have now been advised to reconsider the possibility of getting Shakespeare back to our schools. I felt so happy when I heard this news and it really motivated me to write this article. Some people may not like this idea but if you are a true lover of English literature, you can never stop yourself from falling in love with Shakespeare.
I have had the opportunity to read Shakespeare right from my high school up to the university and I have loved every bit of it: Merchants of Venice, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth and Othello. I see Shakespeare as an extraordinary artist gifted with special skills to build the plots, settings and characters for his works in such a way that the readers get easily drowned in the story. One can learn a great deal about life, society and other issues of the universe from his works. Each of his plays explores a unique issue: Macbeth (vaulting ambition), Hamlet (guilt), Othelo (Jealousy), King Lear (pride), Merchants of Venice (greed), and so on. Each of these plays offers readers the opportunity to explore and understand those issues from different perspectives. I would be one person to share joy with His Majesty the king if Shakespeare comes back to the classrooms of our children.