Sunday, November 18, 2012

Some Immediate Benefits of Learning Literarary Analysis

All semester I've wanted to sit down with the materials we are using for literature and writing and work ahead to remind myself of  the big picture. It's been, well, I'll just say "a long time" since I've had to do any formal literary analysis and I wanted to get up to speed, so to speak. I did this with Algebra before we started pre-algebra so that I had a better grasp of where everything was going and it proved to be very helpful. While, life is busy and I hadn't had time to do this yet, so I have been teaching literature on the fly this year. Finally, I have had some time to invest in completing a thorough overview and refresher.

This year I am using A Syllabus for Introduction to Literary Analysis by Jill Pike. This nifty tool makes use of two books published by Institute for Excellence in Writing: Teaching the Classics (TTC) and Windows to the World (WTTW).  We are almost all the way through the TTC portion of the syllabus. It has been great so far, as I've had the videos to do the teaching for me, but as of then end of next week, I'll be on my own teaching the material from WTTW - which is what brought me to the coffee shop today. Today I have been blessed to have a concentrated study session at a local coffee shop where I have completed the assignments in the remaining portion of TTC and have moved on to the WTTW section of the syllabus. I am so excited!

Why, you might ask? Because I have remembered why I am teaching literature in the first place, not only that, I have determined how the reading of literature and the related skill of literary analysis can have immediate impact on my teen student's life! Wait - immediate impact? Does this mean that I expect my son to walk down the street and engage people in conversations about O. Henry, Shakespeare and Beowulf, of all things? Why no, I don't! However, I do expect him to walk down the street and engage in life and in the "great conversation" of life.

You see, by learning to read well, you can reap  immediate benefits that result in improving the way you process information. Learning how to pay attention to detail and to realize the impact details have to the big picture of the story, you learn a skill that will enable you to understand almost any information that is presented to you. I say almost, because I'm not sure there is anything that would help me understand Calculus.

It is widely discussed that those who read for enjoyment have the opportunity to "experience" a lot of different cultures and scenarios, thus adding to the richness of their lives. It is worth it to consider how this experience can impact a teen's life. Think about it - by reading literature of many different types and using good thinking skills, a teen can use the experience of reading to explore  a variety of situations and settings as well as the opportunity to think about what contributed to the situation itself and what impact various changes to the situation or setting may have had on the outcome. Becoming aware of the various themes in literature can help a person assess real life challenges and situations as well by providing a spring board for the teen to think through various parts of the experiences life throws his way.

Literature is the one subject where a student can see immediate application - every student of literature can use the skills they are learning and apply them to their lives - and they will be richer for it.

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