Even though I've never been a teacher of Shakespeare, I'm often pondering the whole "Why learn Shakespeare?" question, as if I might stumble across the answer. After all, I took the classes in high school just like everybody else, and claimed to hate them just like everybody else. But then I got to college and had to pick a humanities project, and found myself strangely drawn back to Shakespeare. When a chance came to work with an educational videogame company and pick my project, I chose Shakespeare. Before I knew it I was becoming quite the Shakespeare geek.
But enough of that rambling, back to the topic at hand. My memories of learning Shakespeare in high school are of the "broccoli" variety. You can guess what I'm going to say next, right? "Trust me, it's good for you, just do it." Bleh. Does that ever work? I'm pleasantly surprised to see the universe looking out for me, as Kathy Sierra over at Creating Passionate Users has an article on exactly that topic. She's got a picture of broccoli right at the top of the article!
The way to win the battle, the article goes on to say, is to invoke optimism and hope. Emphasize the pleasure. "Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear," it says.
I think the best teachers know this. Nobody is really hoping to say "Sit down and shut up, and just read the thing so we can get out of here." Every teacher I've spoken with goes out of their way to seek out games and quizzes and activities for the students to do, and inevitably breaks out the movie at the end of class. They know that it should be fun. I guess the real question is, does the fun outweigh the "you have to do it, it's good for you" weight that comes with the subject matter? Is the real hurdle not with the subject matter at all, but with some students' instinctive rebellion against anything they're forced to do? Do calculus teachers have the same problem?
Just some rambling thoughts on the subject so that I get them down. Feel free to chime in while I get back to work.