Shakespeare, Pedagogy and Dyslexia

Shakespeare, Pedagogy and Dyslexia
Author: Whitfield, Petronilla (2013)


In this article, the author reports on her early research into understanding dyslexia, observing its characteristics and affect on some acting students in their work, and discusses ideas for supporting dyslexic acting students in their performance of Shakespeare. Three Acting degree students assessed as dyslexic are presented as case studies in their observed behaviour and the author shares ideas for further action research. The author reports on the students’ strengths and difficulties arising from dyslexia in their reading, understanding and speaking of Shakespeare’s text towards performance. Disclosing challenges the students have met in engaging with the text, and challenges the author faced as their teacher in endeavouring to assist them, the article incudes descriptions of teaching methods that have succeeded or failed in this task.
Having shared the students’ work with six specialist who possess various aspects of expertise involved in dyslexia, the experts comment on the student case studies and their particular challenges. Their expertise is in neurology, dyslexia research, linguistics, speech therapy, the acting of Shakespeare and educational psychology. Several explanations are given in regard to how dyslexia manifests itself in the individuals’ work and processes, and ideas for teaching are offered in supporting acting students with dyslexia. Finally, the author shares her ideas for future investigations and testing specific teaching strategies during her PhD research.

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