Year 8 students have been studying Shakespeare, focusing on themes such as: family dynamics, battle of the sexes and others. Mrs Fearn and Mrs Johnson’s Year 8 English class have been looking at Romeo & Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew and in Mrs Johnson’s lesson debated the question: ‘Was Shakespeare sexist?’

The quality of the debate was exceptionally high, with everyone taking part and each group considering a number of factors such as historical context and gender stereotypes. It certainly provoked some strong opinions, but students were able to listen to opposing points of view and respond with their own counterarguments.

Mrs Johnson was particularly impressed with the maturity of the discussion regarding who society dictates we can and can’t love. She said: “The students acknowledged the rights of the LGBT+ community as part of their discussion in such a matter of fact way that equality of opportunity for all was just assumed – what a marvellous representation of teenagers they are!”

Here’s what some of the students wrote about the experience:

  • “So far in our debate, we have argued that Shakespeare’s time was sexist but also stereotypical of its time. We argued that Petruchio treated Kate like a slave and changed her ways and the way she lived. However, we argued that this could have been a good thing because she became a nicer person in the end.”
  • “In our groups, we debated whether Shakespeare was sexist or not and why. The techniques we used are DA FOREST, speaking and listening skills, quotes and lots of good vocabulary such as conjunctions and alliteration.”
  • “Potentially, Shakespeare was sexist because in his play, all the men were in charge of the women and were forcing them to do things that they didn’t want to do. On the other hand, it is not his fault as he was just writing in his context.”



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