When was the last time you sat down and really ingested a book? Not a comic book, or a magazine, or the “What’s New” feed on your twitter, a real book. To question the value of literature is to really question education. And what is the value of education besides to prepare us for life?
The debate on whether or not school systems should teach English using literature seems idiotic. Of all the subjects English seems to be the one that would be most beneficial in the long run. Why not question why we need to know that the mitochondrion is the power house of the cell, or how to find the surface area of a 3D triangle? Besides the obvious things you’ll need skills learned from literature for, like college essays, resumes, etc., reading and analyzing it can really reflect on life in a myriad of ways. Literature can even shape what kind of person you are; it can connect to emotions and stimulate all kinds of introspection. The novels, plays, and poetry that some teens find so boring, are way more important than they think. Learning to understand and look through the eyes of others is an important skill to have in life. Reading can even be an alternative medicine in some ways.
A study published in the Annual Review of Psychology in 2011 stated “…it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than nonreaders”. These seem like some pretty good benefits of just sitting back and enjoying a good story.
With today’s vast amount of technology, reading seems old fashioned and dull, but in reality literature is everlasting, and consuming information in bits and pieces rather than reading long articles and books can lead to a more distracted and anxious lifestyle. News is popping up all the time with the latest electronics everyone has, and it keeps everyone tuned in. Today’s generation’s seem to be addicted to what’s the latest happenings and what’s changing and needing to be in the loop all the time, but this doesn’t have the benefits that actual literature does.
It’s not going to be important in a few days that Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj had twitter beef, but you probably won’t forget that Romeo and Juliet committed suicide for their love, or the bold and opinionated Scout Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird. Some things just stick with you when you really can get into them and find the value of it.
Literature may seem overrated, but just because something is old doesn’t mean it isn’t good anymore. Its value is pure and as important as ever. I think that’s something a lot of students in this generation need to appreciate and not waste time questioning.