Thursday, February 26, 2009

Secondary School Topic: The Relevance of Literature

10-second review: Why do we teach literature in the age of science and technology?

Title: “English Literature: The Enemy Within.” Adrian Peetoom. English Journal (May 1975), 10-11. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quotes: “What is so beautiful about scientific knowledge is that it works. Just look around you. The impressive achievements of technology are not due to literary knowledge, of that, we can be sure.”

“Literature places people before choices about truth.” [That, my friend is an ambiguous sentence. RayS.]

“Literature is the opus of artists, and artists seldom build—they break apart the card houses of false notions and easy answers….”

“Literature divides man against man, for if it is good literature it expresses…that people are forever choosing new gods, new hopes, new anchors in life.”

“To be really confronted with literature is to be confronted with choices.”

“Literature dis-unites people. And literature slows down production of a higher standard of life. That is why literature is dangerous in schools in North America.”

Comment: In other words, literature puts people first. Literature slows the scientific, technological and affluent world down. How does literature compare to the productivity of business? Business downsizes. Business puts people dead last when it comes to a choice between people and profit. I would be very much interested in my readers’ answer to the question, “Why teach literature? Why read literature—in a scientific and technological world?” RayS.

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