English Education: A Social Imperative Essay

670 words - 3 pages

Books are mind-vacations, intelligence-enhancers, shielded adventures, and champions of inspiration awaiting discovery. Obstinately analytical individuals often argue against the necessity of mandatory high school English courses, citing literature’s functional ‘uselessness’ as proof of their delusional position’s validity. However, pervasively influential in its role as developmental catalyst and accolade to imagination, the study of literature is educationally essential because it represents a timeless testament to the unchanging nature of humanity.

Literature is an agent of civilization and progress. The crucial connection between literacy and advancement is illustrated by the loss of culture and regressive socio-economic development experienced by countries in which illiteracy is rampant and schooling is poorly-attended (Murthy 2). A central means of transferring knowledge, history recorded in literature ensures educational accuracy in modern classrooms. George Santayana famously argued for the dependency of progression on meticulous documentation, saying, “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it” (Cohen 1). Embodying a firsthand reflection of historical attitudes, classic literature – although superficially fictional – conveys the intensity of human experience in an emotionally comprehensive way which analytical documentation cannot. Accomplished historian and producer Dr. Howard Zinn advocates for the compulsory studying of literature in high schools, saying, “books are windows into the world of the author, while textbooks are concrete walls with words written on them” (Fredman 4).

In an emotionally barren world of technological alienation, literature gives intellectual relevancy to the (often neglected but socially indispensible) human imagination. In his book Why Literature Matters, Dr. Mark W. Roche contends that “art addresses the innovative, emotional, and subconscious parts of the self with greater success than mere argument does” (25). While the necessity of logical thought is indisputable, innovation is dependent on the sort of visionary thinking that can only occur in moments of unrestrained cognitive whimsy. The practical value of well-developed creativity is elucidated through recent research, which indicates that many mental skills valued by contemporary business leaders are unquestionably literary in character: not ''linear, logical, analytical talents," author Daniel...

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