Why should young people study literature? Why, in particular, should seventeen-to-twenty-year-olds who don’t read for pleasure and have weak literacy skills be forced to spend their time reading poetry, novels, plays etc. instead of working on simple reading comprehension and writing skills? Is it as important for students to read Salinger or Ishiguro as it is for them to read the newspaper? Why am I teaching this stuff?
For one of my MEd courses, I need to research, summarize and evaluate scholarly articles about teaching my discipline. In order to start on this review, I need to come up with a research question. Thus far, my general questions are those I list above. From here, I need to decide what, specifically, I want to investigate – skills that I want my students to learn by studying literature, and the best ways to teach these skills effectively.
Maybe you can help get my thoughts on this rolling. Do you have opinions on this subject? Why is the study of literature important? What skills do students learn through reading literature? Can they learn these skills through reading literature in ways that they can’t elsewhere? Why should college-level students who don’t like reading and who don’t see a practical application for literature in their lives be required to take English courses in which literary analysis is a major component? Are we serving them well by demanding this? Why do we not just focus on grammar and composition and leave the literature to the English majors?
Image by Szuszanna Kilian