Prof. Newstok Encourages Class of 2020 to Think Like Shakespeare

a professor in academic robes giving a speech at a wooden podium
Dr. Scott L. Newstok

Dr. Scott L. Newstok, 2016 winner of Rhodes’ Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching, addressed the Class on 2020 during Opening Convocation on Aug. 19. A revised version of his speech can be found on the Chronicle of Higher Education website. 

“The most momentous event in your intellectual formation was the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which ushered in our disastrous fixation on testing,” Newstok writes. “Your generation is the first to have gone through primary and secondary school knowing no alternative to a national regimen of assessment. And your professors are only now beginning to realize how this unrelenting assessment has stunted your imaginations.” 

Asa remedy, Newstok encourages first-year students to “take advantage of the autonomy and opportunities that college permits by approaching it in the spirit of the 16th century. You’ll become capable of a level of precision, inventiveness, and empathy worthy to be called Shakespearean.” Read more

At Rhodes, Newstok is an associate professor in the Department of English and director of the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment.