Monday, March 19, 2012

Tis is a necessity of thine?

Recently I have been in conversations about whether or not children still need to be exposed to Elizabethan language. This is the language that is found in writings like Shakespeare and the King James Version of the Bible.  I am of the opinion that it is still a good idea for several reasons.

1.       This language of “Old England” is enough different that it has a similar effect on the brain that learning a new language has. That is, is “stretches” the brain and in layman’s terms, creates more space for learning than just that new language. People who learn a second language have more success in math, reading, art, and other cognitive skills.

2.       While I don’t believe that children should only be exposed to the King James Version of the Bible, there are no doubt some scripture passages that are truly beautiful in that language. One of my favorites in the KJV is the 23 Psalm. It is really poetic said in the words of Ole English.

3.       Many of us still desire for our children to attend a university that provides them a liberal arts education. Presently, universities of this caliber are still requiring students to interact with some literature in English, and even Science courses that are written in this old version of the English language.

I presented a workshop last weekend on reading and had the privilege of meeting a gentleman who engaged me in thinking about this very subject. He said that when he was growing up, he used the KJV of the Bible primarily. When he got to college, he found himself in a class where they were studying Shakespeare. His professor found quickly that he understood the meaning of Shakespeare’s writing when the other students weren’t getting it. The professor took him aside and said, “I bet you read the King James Version of the Bible when you were growing up, didn’t you?”

So is it worthwhile to work “Old English” into your child’s curriculum, or is it much ado about nothing?  

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