As much as Shakespeare was an artist, teaching Shakespeare is an art. The language used by Shakespeare is archaic and this is one of the reasons why students encounter difficulties while reading his plays. There are other reasons as well. In a paper on the difficulty with Shakespeare one finds that devices like hyperbole’s reveal a high degree of contradiction. This tends to make it difficult for readers. In this area, findings reveal that even students who are avid readers find Shakespeare’s plays a bit difficult to get through. There are three challenges broadly for a teacher while teaching Shakespeare. One is the language. Here the context of Shakespeare needs to be explained so that knowledge of the times in which he lived would make it easier for young readers to appreciate his language. The second challenge is the devices used by the playwright. The teacher needs to explain the various literary devices so that Shakespeare and poetry, in general, become easier to unravel. The third challenge is that the context is different from the books that readers are normally familiar with.
The ‘Shakespearean block’ was analyzed by literary specialists more as a specific reading block. We usually have heard of writer’s block but very rarely do we come across ‘reader’s block’. Reader’s block is experienced by one who reads voraciously for some time and then finds it suddenly difficult to read books as a result of loss of enthusiasm. The Shakespearean block is a specific block that students experience when they have to read Shakespeare. This experience is a result of a lack of familiarity with the context and style. This is why an effective way of teaching Shakespeare is to involve students and make them play roles. This helps in relating to the emotional impact of the words.
In online tutoring, it may be difficult to make students enact a play. But this can be compensated for by reducing the pressure on students to match lines with ‘correct explanations’. Eleanor Duck worth, a learning theorist says that the most passive intellectual virtue is the virtue of knowing the right answer. Allow students to read poetic lines by themselves and let them come up with their own interpretations. Then the tutor needs to give explanations for why the lines mean what they mean. Thinking about poetry is more about finding the meaning than trying to know the meaning of every word in the text.