a…Not too many secondary school students enjoy literature.Teaching Shakespeare, for instance, can be a very real challenge: For instance,it’s essential to introduce students to Shakespeare which is one of the cornerstones of English literature, but language barrier or vocabulary problems can cause students to lose focus.Part of the difficulty with Shakespeare arises from the historical context; a lot of the dialogue simply does not make sense in the modern day.Teens may feel reluctant to study Shakespeare, believing that the plays and sonnets have no relevance to them. They may resist the works of Shakespeare because of the strange, antiquated language and the belief that this language will make the material too hard to understand.Although William Shakespeare created literary works more than 400 years ago, the themes of his masterpieces are timeless. Audiences worldwide seem to enjoy his plays as much as audiences who attended them in London’s original Globe Theater. Yet, sometimes students have a preconceived notion that Shakespeare is out of their intellectual reach.
b… Add fuel to the fire: There is no room for a unanimous agreement in Literature. Every line is subject to interpretation, levels of importance and hidden meaning.
c… Each class also has students who tend to monopolize the conversation and center discussions towards their opinions.
d… You need to be aware that Literature is not like most other subjects where the content is what is essential. It is the creativity and thought behind the content that makes a Literature essay stand out.
e…But there is still some light down the shaft: English has evolved for over a thousand years. During the course of this evolution, the English language has inspired the creation of many works of literature. From Shakespeare to Jane Austin to the modern-day works of Thomas Pynchon, English literature remains a tremendously influential force. Teaching students to understand and appreciate the nuances of English literature can open doors to their own literary expressionism and creativity.” So how can an average teacher become a hero?
f…The suggestions you are about to read are a mix of our personal experiences at Mason College,Festac and suggestions by specialists from Nigeria,U.K, USA, and Canada.We therefore cannot claim to be originators of all we are about to say here.
15 KEYS FOR PREVENTING YAWNS DURING SHAKESPEARE CLASSES
1… Self-motivation is the no 1 key to succeeding as a literature teacher.Having a literature degree and passing the job interview won’t guarantee your success as a teacher of drama,prose or poetry.Here is a problem which is also very common with Maths teachers.Someone with a medical degree who is better organized and self-motivated might do a better job than you.Also not all schools have management or owners (private or public) who think much of literature or are willing to help you on some of the suggestions we might make here.However,at Mason College we once had a self-motivated teacher who personally raised the status of Visual Arts over almost every subject in the school!. He spent almost 5 yrs with us.Apart from taking his students to neighborhoods surrounding the school for classes,you could see evidence of his works and those of his students on our walls, corridors and other pathways all over the school.Even parents who came on Open Days realized there was a very active Visual Arts teacher in the school.And the school had no choice than to respond positively to him in kind and promotion! This leads to the next point and another point made later that a Literature teacher must be versatile.
2…Before your first class you must decide your personal goals for teaching the subject.Do you intend to teach for WAEC/NECO/JAMB exams only or do you want to move your student to a higher plain by relating literature to their lives at every available opportunity?Without identifying your goals or aims your class has a possibility of becoming a ship without any captain.
3…After fulfilling all formalities on 2-way introductions between you and your students, the next step is to check your their literary abilities.This can be by a short written test or Q/A oral-based discussions.The time you spend in knowing their differences may be determined by the number of students in your class.On the other hand knowing differences might not be as important as evaluating the general standard of the class while hoping to deal with personal difficulties later.
4…Step 3 will help you decide the interpretive strategies or critical approaches to be adopted for each genre. For instance your questions should be drafted to give you some idea how much of interpreting Shakespeare history, language and culture you might need to go through.You may also be able to decide the major communication format likely to be more prominent or successful with your students (lecture,discussion,drama,or film show e.t.c)
5…Your next step is to check the school’s time-table to know the number of periods allocated per week (or you might have known this at the point of being hired). This should then be translated into the number of available hours before the first national exam comes on board.The next step is to strategically allocate work to be covered over the available time including time for mid-term tests and official school breaks. But be a bit more careful at this stage because there might be a scheme of work already drawn up for the period which might run counter to your program.Since management will expect lesson notes based on the official schemes of work you have no choice than to approach management for some help or let-off based on your plan.But will management? Even if management does not accept because you are new tutor you can go back to your plan and restructure it in line with that of the school.So at this stage you are ready to unleash your energies and brainpower at turning yourself into being one of the best literature teachers your students ever had.But are going to find nice,cooperative students who will understand all that you give as a lecture or accept your interpretations of the different genres or co-operate with your style of delivery? No! Not Likely!
6…You need to remember that the other name for a literature teacher should be MR VERSATILITY.He has to be a bit of every part in his class .Apart from being a teacher he becomes,the playwright,the author and the poet. Sometimes he puts on the hat of a witch or the funny apparel of court jesters.But he can also be a king or Queen,Film Producer or Director.This is because he wants to relate literature to life known to the students.
7…Allocate enough time for teaching your students literary terms and concepts as it is done in mathematics.Terms and concepts constitute the gateways into the heartland of literature.Without good understanding it is doubtful if any student can produce excellent work in literature.Another focus for attention is English vocabulary.Encourage them to play scrabble, word or cross-word puzzle games.Many works of art are art because the author uses language in a precise and thrilling way. Expand student vocabularies with a list of words that might otherwise remain a mystery to them. Encourage students to ask you if they do not know the meaning of a word.” We have provided over 2500 of such words on this page and three other pages…https://lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/1500-words-for-vocabulary-development-and-spelling-practice-by-nigerian-students-1/
8…Take them to see a play-any play!. Students who struggle with the subtleties of “Othello” may find a production of the play makes the work come alive thrillingly. A play based on a novel can help students understand the background of the novel and motivate them to listen more carefully to the written text. Check out the National Theater,Iganmu or universities nearest to your school if there is such production in the works. Allow the class to attend staged productions of a play or watch it on video. Initiate a discussion about the benefits of seeing the play staged and reading it aloud.Mason College students were taken all the way from Festac to watch similar productions at the University of Lagos as part of an excursion!
TO BE CONTINUED.
- Waec/neco Literature in English…literary Terms and Concepts for Appreciation Purposes…how Many on This List Do You Actually Know Like Chimamanda? (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)
- Waec/neco Literature in English (2)…appreciation of an Author or His Work- What Do Examiners Want? (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)
- For Teachers or Parents and Exclusively From Us Only!…absolutely Free Past Waec, Neco and Gce Marking Schemes in These Subjects. (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)