The pick of Shakespeare quotes on teaching and learning


With the birthday and death of William Shakespeare on the horizon, there are numerous opportunities to talk about his works in the classroom.

Given the extent of the Bard’s work, it’s unsurprising that there are plenty of references to teaching. As a result, we’ve picked out a few of our favourite Shakespeare quotes that relate to learning, in the hope they can encourage discussion and debate over their meaning and the role of teaching… 

"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” As You Like It

“My love is thine to teach. Teach it but how, and thou shalt see how apt it is to learn. Any hard lesson that may do thee good.” Much Ado About Nothing

“I’ll teach you differences.” King Lear 

“Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality, and such like, the spice and salt that season a man?” A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.” The Merchant of Venice

“And when I am forgotten, as I shall be, and asleep in dull cold marble, where no mention of me must be heard of, say, I taught thee.” Henry VIII

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking make it so” Hamlet

“Sir, I am too old to learn” A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” Julius Caesar

“Fall to them as you find your stomach serves you. No profit grows where is no pleasureta'en. In brief, sir, study what you most affect.”  The Taming of the Shrew

“Well, sir, learn to jest in good time; there's a time for all things.” A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to discuss Shakespeare’s views on teaching and learning, and indeed on how it can be tied into other key topics as well.