Melody Cabarroguis Staff Writer
Nowadays, classic literature is not as appreciated as it used to be. In one of my classes, a classmate expressed her dislike of Shakespeare. Another one followed with, “I just don’t understand why we have to read something from 100 years ago.” I get where they are coming from; some of the main things people don’t like about classic books is the complicated, outdated vocabulary, and lack of relatatability. Shakespeare’s plays are not easy to understand. So, should we still teach classics in today’s society?
Generally, liberal arts schools have decreased the requirement of classic literature in their curriculum due to the of the rise of other concentrations, such as Queer or Post-colonial studies. Some universities do not require classics to be part of the English curriculum at all. In contrast with the past, less children are familiar with authors like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. In an article titled, “Giving High School Students the Tools to Question Classic Literature,” by Jeanne Dyches, an assistant professor at Iowa State University, says, “students described the texts as ‘bland and ineffective,’ adding that they can’t relate to any of it.”
A sociologist might claim that it creates a cultural hierarchy where lovers of this literature unconsciously disregard those who love the popular books like “Breaking Bad” and “Harry Potter.” All these viewpoints are true. However, both the past and the present are valuable so we should not pick one over the other.
The interests of children start with the encouragement of their parents; they should open the reading horizons of their kids with different genres of literature so they can value classics as something other than just hard and unrelatable, even at an early age.
Additionally, public school systems should also be attentive to how they use classic literature in the classroom. In my experience, reading “Macbeth” and “Lord of The Flies” was torturing because we always had to analyze the symbolism, metaphors, characterization, and structure. I did not have any interest in the text that I should be grappling with. Nonetheless, there was a time when I read “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Wuthering Heights” just for fun and really enjoyed them. Educators who teach this type of literature should think about how it can nurture the passion and the experience of students.
We should provide a fair amount both of classic and modern literature for kids to explore so new generations can be aware of the culture that the past endured and the present thrived on.