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Approaching the Bard

(CNN) -- William Shakespeare may be ranked among the greatest of English writers, but for most students he becomes just another writer to be forgotten after school -- not least because most teachers don't know how to approach him.

Bob Smith knows the feeling. When he brings Shakespeare alive, his students often react in joy -- and surprise.

"I get that every day -- 'Where were you when I needed you?' Everyone's trying to repair the damage of some overworked teacher who just didn't get it," he says.

William Shakespeare saves a life 

Smith's secret is that he doesn't really teach, he says, "I share what excites me with some people."

Smith doesn't worry about Shakespeare's archaic language or unfamiliar way of saying something -- to 21st century ears. He'll define words, explain context, and then he and his class can "get on with the poetry, or on with the play.

"I try to make sure that we're not crippled by things not easily explained," he says.

-- Todd Leopold




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