Literature VS Modern Day Society. FIGHT!

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom Free Online Summary Study Guide Christopher Paul Curtis

Reading - A Thing Of The Past?

A few months ago, I purchased a book for one of my friends that I thought she may like; Albom’s ‘Five People You Meet In Heaven,’ in a hope to engage her into a topic that is of great interest to me – literature. Eagerly, I asked of how she was progressing, only to be told that she hadn’t actually started it. (5 months on!)

On another occasion, I have had a different friend confuse Frankenstein for the monster, and not its creator.

I have always read; being seventeen years old and an obsessive reader of all forms of literature, I can’t help but feel saddened by the fact that my generation cannot see literature as an art form; a way of learning from past intellectuals, as well as being enjoyable. I’ve read a wide range of genres and texts, ranging from Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ to currently reading Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’; the contextual knowledge and insight into these great writer’s mindsets is – in my opinion – priceless, with regards to how life can play out.

Are Mobile Phones Damaging Our Education?

From constant broadcasts and news feeds, we are being presented with a generation that is more inspired by mobile phones, violent video games – see previous post – and media that should be censored than actual books and novels. In a way, this is partly true. More young teenagers are doing things that only years ago would have been considered highly taboo for their age groups; nowadays, it’s commonplace to see thirteen year old boys using eye-watering expletives, and girls that are obsessed with losing weight when they’re paper thin. (which could be done easily, if only they’d take their makeup off!)

As everyone does, I own a mobile phone, and I do like video games; however, I fail to see why reading has recently been stigmatised to such a degree.It has now got to a point now that changes must be made. An study conducted by scholars at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy (the article can be found here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618170920.htm) has suggested that children who spend times on computers are much more likely to get poor maths and literacy scores, which I would suggest is down to the lack of time they are investing into studying and exploring topics that interest them.

This problem seems widespread.

How can this be resolved? By taking the phones and the video games away from their owners?

E.M Foster

No. Personally, I feel that teachers, parents, and any other form of teaching assistant / aide should be teaching that new technologies and works of literature are complementary, and not mutually exclusive. The way for children to start reading properly is for society to embrace it, making visits to places of learning common. Furthermore, the exam syllabus that schools use should become more engaging and less predictable – instead of studying Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘Hamlet’, why not Nabokov’s ‘Pale Fire’, or E.M Foster’s ‘A Passage To India’; novels which are both intellectually challenging, whilst having life lessons and underpinning contextual information in them. Teachers should be making more of an effort to integrate and merge new information communication technologies with their teaching methods, to further state that the ideas of reading / learning and being ‘cool’ and ‘modern’ aren’t necessarily that distant from each other as they perceive.

What do you think? How can modern students engage with literature again? Is it possible, or are books already stigmatised? Do you feel that children even need to know how read and write, with modern day functions such as spell checkers and voice-to-character recognition?

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About Adam Fearn

ThursdayNightRants@gmail.com @ThursNightRants View all posts by Adam Fearn

3 responses to “Literature VS Modern Day Society. FIGHT!

  • chunkee2na

    Sadly books are already stigmatised. Parents and those in charge of education realized that a little too late. People especially my age group and below (I’m 21) associate reading with intellectualism and being a nerd. The only reading and writing they’re gonna be doing is at school and maybe university. Like you mentioned, it doesn’t help that Shakespeare is being taught and modern books are completely left by the wayside.

    I have 5 year old brother who knows Portuguese as a first language, but he’s learning English and some math via cartoons and video games. So there is potential there.

    What I noticed, is that he had a tendency to discard ‘learning games’ and preferred those that didn’t highlight that he is in fact learning. Maybe that’s something that educators could look at.

    I leave you with a great quote: “Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extravagance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft.” ā€“ Pericles

  • A.L.F

    Yes; I completely agree. To reinforce learning, I strongly feel that knowledge must be applied to a given situation, rather than simply discarded. As you stated, the video game industry should look further into the development of ‘learning games’ – Nintendo’s Brain Training and the like – that builds and trains specific practical skills that have real life validity.

    In my opinion, it’s time for the likes of Shakespeare to move over for more contemporary authors – Harper Lee; Alice Walker; Arthur Miller – that teach lessons about ethnic equality for example; lessons that students can use to comprehend the world that they live in at present. Although Shakespeare is ‘classic’, I feel his works – which, personally, I find quite bland – should be left for advanced study, where people who have passion for literature have chosen to analyse. If it’s compulsory, I feel the syllabus should be much more accessible and entertaining.

    Thanks again for an in-depth knowledge that you’ve shared with us; I have subscribed to your blogroll – please keep commenting, as I shall be doing the same for you! šŸ™‚

  • pneumaticdevotion

    Borders has just closed. And sadly, the only literature that has been popular is based purely on cheap sales and editors are no longer vanguards of art, they’re pimps of banal distractions. The problem is what the consumer, what culture, is hungry for. We have no patience for anything that makes us think or feel.

    I think change has to happen in homes and small communities. I think we need groups that center around real interaction. People are more prone to read if it does not isolate them. They are more happy to sit in a park with someone. We are a lonely culture, perpetuated as such by the constant blur of distraction. We lack intellectualism and fear self-awareness. Because in modern culture, there is no room for sadness or “negative” feelings. There is no room for the concerns great authors often wrote to. Most great literature is not an escape. It is a lens. And aren’t we afraid to see ourselves? Isn’t that what the anxiety in the body issues of little girls are? Isn’t a profound observation they note that to be loved, we must be pleasant, consumable products that never challenge?

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