Education Essay Sample: Thinking Differently, Reading Creatively

Published: 2022-06-06
Education Essay Sample: Thinking Differently, Reading Creatively
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Education Shakespeare
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1092 words
10 min read

Nowadays the concept of literacy has often been challenged as an over-estimated element of the curriculum or at least contrasted with the human ability to be creative, improvise and turn work into play. But in fact, all these aspects are integrally and intrinsically connected into one synergistic unity. When Sir Ken Robinson is saying that "creativity is now as important in education as literacy" (Robinson, 2006) his words might lead the listener to believe that the two concepts can easily be separated while, in fact, they cannot. For me, reading is always a creative act that involves making choices, thinking critically, building new interpretations, creating new meanings, and also a new self of the reader.

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My whole life I have struggled with reading Shakespeare. I found his plays to be distant echoes of the past that had nothing to do with me and the age I am living in. As much as I have enjoyed modern literature I could not bring myself to appreciate the genius of this literary icon. This has tortured me because Shakespeare is the center of the Western literary canon and my failure at falling in love with his works meant something was profoundly wrong with me and my worldview. This is why I decided to approach the problem creatively - by reading Shakespeare in a different way, in a thoughtful and at the same time critical manner. I decided to start a dialogue with the Bard as if he were my contemporary. I picked Hamlet, which was an obvious choice, and used three strategies that helped me completely change my attitude to Shakespeare, but also to classical literature and reading as a whole.

The first strategy I used was questioning everything and trying to go deeper into the text, beyond the obvious surface. I looked closer at the familiar quotes. For example, I re-thought the famous lines: "The time is out of joint. O cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right!" (Act I, scene 5, lines 210-211). As I scrutinized them, I saw that they changed their meaning whenever I placed a semantic emphasis upon another word. The character of Hamlet also changed from a selfish, whining and immature adolescent to a self-sacrificial missionary figure. I understood that these readings have always been there: as a complex and controversial personality - just like all of us - Hamlet indeed has all of these facets. I also noticed how well-thought Shakespeare's metaphors are. I approached the "out of joint" metaphor almost literally - I imagined how painful and inconvenient it must be to have a joint dislocation. I thought of how one's productivity must drop, cheerfulness decline and a certain grumpiness appear out of nothing, how badly one needs help in such a situation. I started to understand Hamlet's anxiety and uneasiness better: he deeply and intimately feels the "aching" of the age, he is eager to help but he does not know how. Even now, as I am re-reading these lines, they are talking to me in a reproachful tone: what have you done to set your time right? The close reading of Hamlet taught me to listen to books and to talk back, not to take the text for granted, to ask questions, to be asked questions and sometimes to give answers too.

The second strategy that I used was visualizing the play. I turned to illustrations, film versions, computer games, and cartoons. I looked at how Hamlet was seen by different generations and realized that the pictures I saw reflected the controversial multitude of facets that I discovered while reading - blonde and dark-haired, tall and short, extremely handsome and forgettable, melancholic and decisive Hamlets. There is certainly no single Hamlet, there are plenty of them - looking at them helped me choose my own Hamlet. As well it has also put me in a dialogue with other readers and their ideas. I also looked at the book covers and theater posters. Most of them were black-and-white and full of a skull and a crown symbolism. This showed me how we simplify the classics we read and turn the text into a set of symbols so that it could become more transportable and easy-to-use in new cultural contexts. Books are no longer solitary ivory towers, they are rivers, roads, and bridges that unite different media, various people and distant cultures creating a fruitful space for dialogue.

The third strategy that I used was being pro-active and pro-creative when reading. I not only received the information from the play and digested it, I tried to come up with alternative readings. I looked at secondary characters and tried to see their perspective. This is how I stumbled upon John Updike's novel Gertrude and Claudius, Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Constantine Cavafy's poem "King Claudius." These works of literature taught me to shift my own perspective, be more emotionally intelligent, think outside the box. I also thought of how the events might have developed in a different time - today. This made me interested in such readings as, for example, Michael Almereyda's screen version set in the present day USA. As I was watching it, I felt that Shakespeare was gradually becoming my contemporary - a hipster intellectual living in a fancy New York loft and staging cutting-edge performances in the Central Park. This vision hugely empowered me. I even came up with a couple of ideas for a Hamlet sequel centered around Horatio and his political struggle with scheming Fortinbras, but also his inner struggle with his own bitter memories of the people he once loved. This is when I ceased to treat Shakespeare as an untouchable icon and this is precisely when I started fully enjoying reading his works.

This little experiment helped me deal with an old fear of Shakespeare. And it also taught me how to think differently and read creatively by reading closely and critically, challenging and questioning the stereotypes, putting the text in dialogue with other media and also becoming a part of the bigger dialogue - becoming pro-active and pro-creative. Reading is still a game-changing strategy in the modern education, but only done in a creative, critical and active way.


Robinson, K. (2006, February). Do schools kill creativity? Retrieved May 24, 2018, from

Shakespeare, W. (n.d.). The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (B. A. Mowat & P. Werstine, Eds.) [Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Text]. Retrieved May 24, 2018, from

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