Generally speaking, I think that a genuine effort to produce people who are strong in the intellectual fields (writing, math, etc.) would not only produce great examples (like Shakespeare) but would also have collateral impacts on the people surrounding them, in the same way that everyone knows about athletes.
First, we give them the opportunity to compete at a young age.
Second, we recognize and identify ability at a young age.
Third, we celebrate athletes' success constantly. We show up at their games and cheer. We give them trophies. When they get to be teenagers, if they're still good, we put their names in the newspaper once in a while.
Fourth, we pay them for potential, rather than simply paying them once they get to be among the best in the world.
Because parents can't jump up in the stands and brag about their little Tommy winning the essay-writing competition.
It's not just Shakespeare's period we're not living up to. Pop music in the decade from 1964-1974, for example--compare that with pop music from 2001-2011.
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