December 16, 2011

Sentencing young offenders to Shakespeare instead of jail.

The Milwaukee County Board seems to think $65,000 will buy a Shakespeare program capable of transforming young criminals:
Modeled after a Shakespeare program in Massachusetts, the local version would help boost self-esteem for participants and teach them to work collaboratively....

68 comments:

Mark O said...

This assumes, of course, these kids can read. English.

Daisy Cakes said...

Of course, I'm in a battle to get my local school to introduce Shakespeare (or ANYTHING above a 4th grade reading level) for my very smart middle schooler. I guess she needs to go hold up a liquor store.

TosaGuy said...

Stuff like this is why the Milwaukee County portion of my taxes went up the most of any of the entities on my most recent bill. The MC Board simply cannot restrain itself.

EDH said...

"I shoot the bastards, that's my policy."

traditionalguy said...

This may work. Ebonics rivals Elizabethan English in word creation.



But that Old Dead White Man's ideas forced upon children is not politically correct.

I bet Othello would interst them. And who would not love Richard III?

Psychedelic George said...

Earthly power dost then show likest God's when mercy seasons justice.

Portia, Merchant: IV, i

craig said...

Because all social pathologies can be solved by boosting the offenders' self-esteem. The prisons are full of folks whose only problem is that they don't love themselves enough.

Chalk up one more for psychologist bullshit.

Henry said...

Work collaboratively?

Better avoid Hamlet.

And Macbeth. And Othello. All the tragedies. Right out.

Avoid the history plays. Richard's a fascist and the Henrys are rank opportunists, every one of them. Falstaff is a criminal, sot, and insatiable ego.

The comedies are trouble unless you're teaching a course in antisocial mockery. Let's turn that fat man into a donkey! Avoid the problem plays. The cross-dressing may boost self-esteem for some, but otherwise you're just offering a course in bribery, extortion, and deceit.

And then there's the romances. Set a bear on these bureaucrats and let them exeunt the stage.

Curious George said...

"TosaGuy said...
Stuff like this is why the Milwaukee County portion of my taxes went up the most of any of the entities on my most recent bill. The MC Board simply cannot restrain itself."

Wasn't that way during the Walker years.

art.the.nerd said...

A similar idea worked in Renaissance Man

KenK said...

Probably some of the county types have friends or relatives who are out-of-work English majors or wannbe actors and this is a way to throw them a bone.

rcommal said...

Daisy: Can't she read Shakespeare at home? Seriously, no snark intended, but what's to stop her?

DADvocate said...

help boost self-esteem

Excuse me while I barf.

Lots of violence in Shakespeare. I wonder if the kids will learn to take a pound of flesh or assassinate heads of state.

Sofa King said...

They also cut Sherrif Clarke's department by 50 deputies. Clarke, of course, is a conservative Democrat, so diminishing his power was more important than public safety. Of course, Clarke has been publicly tearing them a new asshole about funding this program at the same time, to the point where Chris Abele has actually vetoed it.

Quaestor said...

They're all going to love Titus Andronicus. Poor Will had to wait 408 years for its target audience.

wv: quarube - a person with an Obama supporter for a grandparent.

Quaestor said...

Correction, 418 years

bagoh20 said...

"the local version would help boost self-esteem for participants and teach them to work collaboratively...."

Yea, like in a gang.

It's their level of other-esteem that needs boosting.

PatCA said...

A better idea: have the wayward youth work at cleaning up highways and parks and then give their pay to the person they robbed to make restitution.

edutcher said...

One wonders how many casualties will be incurred in the duelling scenes?

Quaestor said...

bagoh20 wrote:
It's their level of other-esteem that needs boosting.

The point in time when this whole self-esteem meme took hold in social science/professional academic world roughly corresponds to the moment when academic achievement, manners, the Arts and the culture started to go generally south. I know it's looks like post hoc case, but I nevertheless think these things are related.

Quaestor said...

Henry wrote:
Richard's a fascist and the Henrys are rank opportunists, every one of them.

Not Henry VI, surely.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This idea is seriously stupid.

If you want these incipient career criminals to work collabratively and learn something USEFUL.....have them work on a construction project.

Build something large and that can be finished in short period of time. Something that has some use when it is done. Habitat for Humanity for example.

They will learn how to work in a group and maybe even learn some skills to get them in a position to get a job.

Just obtaining some USEFUL skills will boost their self esteem.

Wisconsin has to be the most retarded state in the union, behind California ...of course.

DADvocate said...

...the culture started to go generally south.

The South just don't get no respect.

Palladian said...

Sounds great! I mean, look what Beethoven did for Alex in A Clockwork Orange!

bagoh20 said...

"Wisconsin has to be the most retarded state in the union, behind California ...of course."

Hey! You can say a lot of bad crap about California, but that's uncalled for. That's like comparing someone to Hitler - it's just over the top. Madison is sillier than San Francisco, and without the nice weather.

Carol said...

I know it's looks like post hoc case, but I nevertheless think these things are related.

I think the difference is that teachers would put the work above the self, at least during class time. That is, we were not worthy. Ever.

Now it's how do you *feel* about it? And there is no humility about the great works that came before our time.

Quaestor said...

Behavior modification a la A Clockwork Orange, assuming it actually works, is just the ticket and not this esteem-raising bullshit.

After all Alex's tragedy is the aversion therapy accidentally robs him of the one worthy element of his character, his love of the rapturous Ludwig van. The solution is to choose the right soundtrack.

wv: prousnes - having the quality of sitting in a soundproof room while writing 4000 words about the aroma of a cake.

phx said...

Daisy: Can't she read Shakespeare at home? Seriously, no snark intended, but what's to stop her?

I don't think she said the child wanted to study Shakespeare in middle school - she said she wanted the child to study Shakespeare.

It's okay for school's to require Shakespeare. It's a little more dicey for parents to require their children to read Shakespeare - or anything for that matter.

I'm with the OP. School's should be introducing Romeo and Juliet to smart kids in middle school.

phx said...

Why did I put an apostrophe on schools - twice??

MadisonMan said...

The article states that the program is modeled after on in Massachusetts. But it doesn't say if the one in Massachusetts worked.

Maybe.

rcommal said...

It's a little more dicey for parents to require their children to read Shakespeare - or anything for that matter.

Tell that to homeschooling parents.

; )

Why did I put an apostrophe on schools - twice??

Must be on account of your being an apostrophe sult!

Ba-doom.

: )

Sofa King said...

Read the sheriff's reaction, it's hysterical:

Sofa King said...

The first paragraph:

This is the craziest thing I have heard in my 33 years of law enforcement service. Now I can
truly say that I have heard everything. What I’ve learned in my time spent in county government
is to never underestimate the ability of people here to reach their height of moronic thought. If
someone in my office suggested something this foolhardy to me, I would order them to be
immediately drug tested.


It gets better.

rcommal said...

I gradually started introducing Shakespeare to my son via Story Nory (which can be downloaded from/subscribed to for free via the internet) and also Beautiful Stories of Shakespeare a few of years back. I also read part of the actual plays to him from time to time, as the whim struck me and he was interested. He then asked if he could borrow the book, so I gave him his own collected works and off to the races. We'll get more formal about it in a year or two. (He's now in 6th grade and will, occasionally, pull out a quote from Shakespeare, most notably to zing or mock me about something or other. The smart ass!!!)

madAsHell said...

ohh!! ohh!!
We gotta make it relevant.
Could we do Julius Caesar as a rap!!

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

"... would help boost self-esteem for participants and teach them to work collaboratively ..."
= = = =

Haven't I read that young thugs actually have WAY TOO MUCH (unjustified) self-esteem?

And, by the way, gang life teaches the little varmints to "work collaboratively" -- it takes a lot of people working together to run a chop shop (or, for that matter, to run drugs).

I have a better idea: stop paying unmarried women to make babies. "What you subsidize, you get more of", you know...

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

bagoh2o-

I hadn't read your comment until just now - The need to increase "other-esteem" - precisely!

oooh - my word verif = "inglesse"
Is that a variant of "Spanglish"?

bgates said...

It's okay for schools to require Shakespeare. It's a little more dicey for parents to require their children to read Shakespeare - or anything for that matter.

Could you flesh out why you are opposed to parents telling their own children to read?

Richard Dolan said...

"Sentencing young offenders to Shakespeare instead of jail."

So you're going to get young offenders to improve themselves by making them read Shakespeare as their punishment? Does the government think this qualifies as a sensible marketing plan for the pleasures of reading? Unfortunately whoever thought this up probably does.

Sigivald said...

Self-esteem?

Really? They're still pushing the self-esteem thing?

Seems to me, from their own words and actions, that the problem with most young ne'er-do-wells is that they have rather too much self-esteem already, relative to their actual value and accomplishments.

They don't need more self-esteem.

Henry said...

If Shakespeare is good and Midnight Basketball is good, how about Midnight Shakespeare? That should be even better.

ricpic said...

They better not get their hands on Coriolanus 'sall I can say.

Erich said...

"Attention. All honor students will be rewarded with a trip to an archeological dig. Conversely, all detention students will be punished with a trip to an archeological dig."

ricpic said...

As per Quaestor at 10:16, it's Titus Andronicus that should be kept out of their hands, not Coriolanus. Always get those two mixed up.

ALH said...

..."help them work collaboratively"

Now they can organize their crime.

Shanna said...

Why are we waiting until a kid engages in violent crime before his exposure to Shakespeare?

Valid!

Are they going to force these kids to sit in a room and actually read shakespear or are they going to assign it as homework with the predictable result that few of them will actually read it and slightly more will watch the movie?

Shanna said...

Out Out damn typos!

Shakespeare.

Alex said...

Yeah I prefer Inspector Callahan's methods. Aeration via .45 caliber.

Meade said...

Shanna, if you go to the link, I think you'll find the answer to your question.

Shanna said...

Shanna, if you go to the link, I think you'll find the answer to your question.

Ah. So not so much reading as community theater.

I think I would prefer jail.

Amartel said...

The Full Employment Act for Delusional Losers Who Can't Make the Grade as Regular High School English Teachers so We Pawn Them Off On Jailbirds Instead

KenK said...

A soviet-style labor camp up in the northern woods would be even better. Brutal Singaporean-style cane beatings would be nice too. Bet a nice set of scars across one's back would take some the swagger out of those gang bangers.

Paddy O said...

My dad has been teaching Shakespeare to juvenile offenders for years in his juvenile hall classroom. Teaching them to read with it, in fact. Using a very dynamic approach. Some are good readers, some never learned to read. Very great results. Also Dickens, and other classics.

Well he was doing that until recently, when the State decided what the kids really needed to do was pass the right test. Now he's bored, they're bored, but the administrators are happy.

cold pizza said...

We few, we happy few, we band of robbers. Henry Pleads the Fifth. -cp

Amartel said...

Paddy O. - Snark 2 posts up was directed at the gov., not your excellent dad.

Paddy O said...

Amartel, my note came after, so no offense taken.

There's also a big difference in that he teaches kids who are serving their sentences in addition to learning. He has taught in community schools (where kids go who get kicked out but aren't in jail) and says he prefers the juvenile hall, since they're forced to stop playing all the games. It's because of the discipline that they, with good teaching, be educated and re-socialized into learning. They are all, otherwise, extremely good about manipulating the system.

The above case sounds like a bad musical -- "hey kids, you stole a car, but by golly, let's put on a show!"

phx said...

Could you flesh out why you are opposed to parents telling their own children to read?

Suggesting what to read is one thing - I still make suggestions to my legal aged child. Telling your kids what to read however isn't necessarily going to engender a love of reading in a child IMO. YMMV.

Reading for young people is a subversive activity most of the time - sometimes anyway. If you're telling your kids what to read they only get to exercise that necessary subversive gene if they ignore you.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Henry,

Avoid the history plays. Richard's a fascist and the Henrys are rank opportunists, every one of them.

Echoing Quaestor here: Henry VI (Shakespeare's version) is not a rank opportunist. Everyone close to him (in fact practically everyone else in the three plays, including Shakespeare's grossly distorted Joan of Arc), I'll grant you. Except the Earl of Rutland. But then he was twelve years old when Young Clifford slaughtered him; he hadn't much opportunity.

Richard III (Shakespeare's version) was the very reverse of a fascist. He had no use for anyone but himself.

I have no brother, I am like no brother;
And this word 'love,' which graybeards call divine,
Be resident in men like one another
And not in me: I am myself alone.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

ricpic,

As per Quaestor at 10:16, it's Titus Andronicus that should be kept out of their hands, not Coriolanus. Always get those two mixed up.

Oh, my. Don't let them get their hands on Titus Andronicus, where some hands go missing. Also some heads, a tongue, and assorted other body parts. There are also some, er, unorthodox culinary practices.

Somehow I brought this play up in conversation with my husband some weeks ago. He hadn't read it, so I gave him a plot summary. I didn't think he was shockable.

andinista said...

Ima readinn Julius Caesar riit now. I thinkk that'd be a goodun 4 d littl hoodster wannabe's Theyd totallii get "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. I do not trust such men". They'd get how Cassius corrupts Brutus. And hopefully theyd get how its all gonna comm 2 a bad end Intersperse w somm reel historii, includin ol Brando Do it riit, an yull scarr d crap outa em.

mariner said...

I just sat through a month of county budget hearings listening to one supervisor after another tell
me that they didn’t have the money to restore County Executive Abele’s proposal to lay off over 60 sheriff deputies.

Huh?

I guess the good sheriff didn't learn much from Shakespeare (or his English teachers).

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I guess schools aren't bothering with Shakespeare now. I'd certainly read Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet by 8th grade, in a pretty ordinary NY public school. Henry V came later (I think they thought all the French would freak us out), and by senior year I was writing an exceedingly stupid paper contrasting Hamlet and Macbeth. (Hey, I was sixteen.)

EMD said...

And who would not love Richard III?


In Ireland, he's affectionately known as Richard da Turd.

EMD said...

Are they sure they're really reading Shakespeare, or that other guy who wrote everything?

Freeman Hunt said...

They're all going to love Titus Andronicus. Poor Will had to wait 408 years for its target audience.

Ha. That was also the first play I thought of when I read this.

Harry Lennix was a great Aaron.

n.n said...

A higher, educated class of criminal cooperatives.

People who commit acts of involuntary exploitation do so because they do not respect other's individual dignity as they dream of physical, material, and ego instant gratification, principally through redistributive and retributive change, but also through fraudulent exploitation.

I wonder how many criminals choose to fail compared to how many submit to corruption when they are vulnerable.

Jim in St Louis said...

Could have some value- but not as an alternative sentence program. Instead let the offender have the regular jail/detention/incarceration and then the county could offer this to model inmates who want to participate.

NOT Romeo and Juliet-plain drivel. I recommend Macbeth- underrated and gets to the heart of man's motives and what you are willing to do to get what you want. Sort of the same problem that landed their butts in juvie in the first place.

Jose_K said...

So Shakespeare is so bad that is a punishment, what a philistin of a judge

bet Othello would interst them. And who would not love Richard
Or Titus