In this technological era, there exists a section of society which does not believe that studying literature is essential in the life of human beings. This part of society underrate the abilities of literature to stand the test of time and still provide useful information to people. The problem is that the world has promoted a social stigma that attaches success life to science and mathematics while associating literature with low-paying jobs and unsatisfying careers. This stigma nurtures a belief that studying literature is insignificant without considering how it has impacted literacy. This paper supports the claim in the quote “The study of literature offers many ways to improve literacy, it gives access to language, reading, writing, a shared culture, and one’s own self” (Trounstine, 2004).
Foremost, the study of literature improves reading and writing skills of learners. This argument is based on the observation that students develop their writing skills as they engage in the purposeful reading of quality literature. Reading and writing go hand in hand because passionate readers usually make the best writers. As students study literature, they build their vocabulary and reading comprehension skills, thereby enhancing the quality of their writing. Besides, students develop their metacognitive skills while interpreting literature (Trounstine, 2004). These skills enable them to compare, contrast, evaluate, and analyze texts during reading paying attention to mood, tone, theme, figurative language, and conflict. As a result, students are in a better position to distinguish good writing from bad writing so that they can apply the good ones in their own writing while eliminating the latter. Conversely, learning literature enables students to build their critical thinking skills by equipping them with skills to make connections, identify symbols, isolate themes, and understand characters (Trounstine, 2007). They view sentences with a broader sense of depth and make logical conclusions. On logical grounds, it could be argued that studying literature stimulates the intellectual act of reading by enabling students to make meaning from texts, thereby improving their reading and writing.
Another argument in favor of studying literature is that it enables them to understand themselves. Studying literature exposes learners to words and ideologies that touch their souls and transform them forever. The main premise for this argument is that human beings have inherent qualities that are influenced by literature. Poems, novels, short stories, and essays are some of the domains of literature that address human nature and situations that shape people’s lives. As Trounstine (2004) correctly argued, literature allows students to create a connection with their humanity by understanding that imperfection is not always a bad experience. As they discover how texts address challenges in life such as fears of failure and success, trust, the goodness of compassion, doubts, and the need for growth, students internalize and anticipate them positively (Trounstine, 2007). On the same note, it provides a leap into the past since literature and history are entangled with each other. The essence of history is that it views people as outcomes of their time and with their own lives. For example, it would be complicated for students of the 21st Century to learn about the experiences of the 16th Century and appreciate the many changes in the world without history enshrined in literature. These points support the claim that studying literature improves one’s self.
Trounstine, J. (2007). Texts as teachers: Shakespeare behind bars and changing lives through literature. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2007(116), 65-77.
Trounstine, J. R. (2004). Shakespeare Behind Bars: One Teacher’s Story of the Power of Drama in a Women’s Prison. University of Michigan Press.