Somebody is always watching. And somebody is always teaching 1984, one of the most popular (though censored many times over the years) and deeply historical texts that high school has to offer. 268 pages of subtle satire (with accompanying literary devices) and deeply rooted historicism make the novel a tough nut to crack in any classroom. Teachers who focus on this work, however, have the opportunity to turn each of these challenges into the proverbial lemonade of hands-on and group learning, use of multiple media, and inter-curricular and inter-disciplinary links to its dystopic brethren.
1984 is first and foremost a political satire. As such, its historical complexity can be daunting, but it is precisely the key to unlocking the meaning and themes that make the novel an unforgettable, enjoyable, and comic relief to read. To begin with, the beginning is the end with regards to 1984 if students are not versed in at least the basics of the 1917 Russian Revolution and some larger trends of Russian twentieth-century history that followed. To make life easier, it would also be helpful to introduce the Cold War, however briefly, before the next class bell tolls.