Speaking of Music and Shakespeare

Music doesn’t make you smarter, Harvard study finds,” the headline read.  Actually I should say “The angry Facebook post read” because I first spotted this story when a musician friend of mine shared it.

But then it showed up on my Shakespeare radar because of quotes like this:

“We don’t teach our children Shakespeare and Dante and Tolstoy because it makes them do better in American history class or at learning the periodic table of the elements,” said Samuel Mehr, a graduate student at the Harvard School of Education who led the work. “We teach them those great authors because those great authors are important. There’s really no reason to justify music education on any other basis than its intrinsic merits. We have our Dante, Tolstoy, and Shakespeare, and they are Bach, Duke Ellington, and Benjamin Britten.”

I love that like “we teach great authors because great authors are important.”  It sounds like something a fourth grader says when doing an oral biography report.  “Charles Darwin…was….a really great scientist…because….he did great things….and he was really great.”

What’s interesting to me though is that while we’ve done away with the idea of the “Mozart effect”, we may be living in a world of  “Shakespeare effect.”  What if reading Shakespeare really does make you smarter?

Or am I just grasping at the same straws the musicians grasped at with the Mozart thing?  Something that will be totally debunked in a few years?  Or should expecting parents start piping audiobooks of Love’s Labour’s Lost through suction cup headphones directly to the womb?  Get it?  Pregnant? Labor?  Ah, forget it.

(Seriously, though, who remembers the episode of E.R. where Dr. Mark Green tries to save a pregnant woman and her baby?  That episode was so good they used to play it every year on Thanksgiving. They won awards for that episode.  That episode was called Love’s Labor Lost

One thought on “Speaking of Music and Shakespeare

  1. Just more fodder for attempts to de-fund education. I wonder, did they also 'disprove' the fact that arts and music stimulate and activate different parts of the brain?
    As to Shakespeare making one smarter; if any studies at all are to be believed, the exposure alone would have to be viewed as positive in inspiring the thought processes. And Psychology, from whatever opposite end of the philosophical spectrum, Behavioral or Analytical, insists on us somehow being products of our environment and experience.

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