A teacher in America said: "I asked my students to learn the 50 U.S. states, with capitals and what each state is commonly known for. There was some grumbling about 'Yankee imperialism' or some such comment, but it was important for context knowledge in conversation."
I think such ideas should be tested with the "You don't have anything better to teach them?" question. The same goes for teaching things like Shakespeare. All of this is great to teach students if you have taught them everything else that they need to know.
There are many Americans who cannot recite all 50 states (myself included) and don't know all of the capitals (myself included). There are many native English speakers who have not read one complete work of Shakespeare (myself included).
I'm not saying that we shouldn't teach these things to students. It's just that we should have a priority list and I suspect there are a lot of other things that our students will use everyday, every week, every month or even every year that they should learn first.
It would be nice if we could equip our students for everything. But, as our students pack their bags for their journey through life, we must make sure that we only add to their burden the things that they will use the most.