Aug 2, 2012

Is Literature Study Important?

Every once in a while a discussion gets brought up on a national yahoo list for home educators that I am on, that really gets my brain moving and challenges me to think about what we are doing and WHY we are doing it. Recently someone asked what others thought of the importance of doing a formal literature program and whether it was really beneficial to have a student push through something that is suppose to be pleasurable. As with any such topic you will always get as many answers as people who are responding, and I was pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of options and alternatives that were presented. 

Personally, I think that some classics are important as iconic references rather than any lessons that might be learned from them. There are so many repeating story lines through books and movies that you could easily make some connections with the older versions and utilize the updated ones. In our ever evolving culture "reading and interpreting the classics" is not quite as necessary as it used to be and if you have a student that is hesitant you could do more damage than good. I am also conflicted with the impact of not having "iconic references" as I have made it through life just fine not always fully understanding quotes from Star Wars which I have NEVER seen, but everyone else around me has - GASP!!!

I truly feel that if you want to promote a love of learning, one of the most essential skills necessary to truly being educated, the worst thing you can do is force anyone to continue reading a story that they don't like, just for the sake of having done it. Another thing to consider is if a child doesn't connect with the story are they really going to be able to make the connections and find the hidden meanings? It is doubtful! 

As with any other area, approach and presentation are KEY! Reading Shakespeare is FAR more difficult and harder to comprehend, than watching it - the way it was meant to be experienced. Think about trying to learn a language and never hearing it spoken. Poetry can be the same way - you miss subtle rhythmic nuisances that aren't there if read improperly and this can fully change the meaning.

As I have said time and time again, before following the path set forth think about where it leads and where your child wants to be. Just as I would not force a child who is not going to a medical profession to take an Anatomy and Physiology class, why would you force a STEM focused student to drudge through Dickens? 

I would love to hear others opinions and experiences on this topic, so please feel free to share by posting a comment below!
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