Shakespeare's comedy has many scenes of instruction, but tends to poke fun at formal education. Lucentio arrives in Padua as a young scholar ready to pursue his studies, but when Tranio tells him to study what he likes the most, he follows his heart... to the beautiful Bianca. "Cambio" and "Litio" (really Lucentio and Hortensio) are supposed to teach Bianca, but this teaching is merely an excuse to get close to her and try to woo her. While these examples show young people who are more interested in love than education, the character Tranio exemplifies another kind of learning. He is clever, socially savvy, and has learned how to act like a nobleman and trick others in order to help Lucentio and himself get out of difficult situations. While he has not had a formal education in philosophy, Latin, or music, Tranio has clearly gotten a very effective social education by learning from real-life experience.
Another example of a kind of education is Petruchio's "taming" of Katherine. As he teaches her to be a submissive wife, the play reveals some forms of education to be violent and a means of exercising power and control. His act of taming also serves to teach Hortensio by example, as Hortensio remarks several times that Petruchio has shown him the right way to handle one's wife. But is this really a lesson worth learning? If apparent education in the play is often just a pretense for something else, and the only truly successful teacher in the play (Petruchio) is violent and abusive, the play might be seen as harshly critical of formal education. The best education may be learning through life, becoming socially savvy and adept like Tranio, whose practical wit helps both him and Lucentio.
Education Quotes in The Taming of the Shrew
Tranio: Faith, he is gone unto the taming school.
Bianca: The taming school? What, is there such a place?
Tranio: Ay, mistress, and Petruchio is the master,
That teacheth tricks eleven and twenty long
To tame a shrew and charm her chattering tongue.