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One of the most valuable benefits from reading and studying literature is that it fosters an awareness and understanding of other people--their values, personalities, needs, ways of thinking, and actions. It connects us to a wider world composed of people who are in many ways like ourselves or, in fact, quite different. Through literature we are taken into different time periods and cultures, places we could not visit and learn to understand without reading; moreover, when we visit these places and meet the people there, we often find they are in many ways like us. Literature serves to illuminate the human condition. In our personal and professional lives, a deeper understanding of human nature and human experience is quite valuable.
I think every one else has made great points. Reading ans analyzing literature will have carry over benefits in many other areas that will help students in college or students who leave high school and go straight to work.
In addition to all the obvious points concerning reading, writing, and expressing yourself clearly to others, I personally have found that the studies in literature that I have undertaken have developed me as a person in the way that I look at the world and think about issues. I am the person I am today thanks to so many excellent poems, novels and short stories that my studies have encouraged me to engage with and think through.
Being able to read, write, and think (analyze) is one of the greatest gifts students can take with them as they leave high school and head out into the the "real world." What career doesn't need these skills? It's an extra bonus that they get to experience so many things vicariously through literature as they learn those skills. The characters of the classics help teach them life lessons and make observations which will stand them in good stead as they move forward with their lives.
There aren't many college majors or careers where an ability to read carefully and read for comprehension are not invaluable skills. While those skills can be taught with any kind of writing, reading literarture has the advantage of depth. When we read literature we read for plot, but we are also influenced by diction, tone, imagery, symbolism, etc. and therefore are engaged in more creative and thoughtful way than we are when we just read facts -- but the act of reading helps us with all tasks of reading.
Literature is an excellent means of training a person to perform a variety of tasks in many different career areas. Being able to identify a theme and provide examples of it is a skill that is transferable across disciplines. The simple ability to write clearly and explain well is highly prized in the corporate world, public service, science, law, medicine, and other disciplines.
It is often thought that an English major doesn't prepare you for much except being an English teacher, but this is far from the truth.
Literature is very broad and abstract. It allows one to see different tones, meaning, and other figurative language. It certainly helps someone to read something that is concrete and understand it better. That is why English Literature is still one of the most popular majors in the Western hemisphere. Most go on to earn MBAs, law degrees, medical degrees, etc.
Only if it is taught in an inspiring way with students accepting the themes of what the authors originally wrote. For example, I give my students the example of Atticus Finch in replying to Jem's wish that he play football. Atticus replies that he is too old, and then asks Jem to come in for supper. Jem replies, "No," and rather than coddle, persuade, beg and plead, Atticus says "Suit yourself." I tell my students that,"Suit yourself." I don't plead, beg, persuade them to learn. I simply say "Suit yourself." That is the real power of literature: to inspire for a better character.
Since you dont mention the kind of training, I am going to wing it here. I think literature allows the reader to investigate other meeans of comunication. When a writer writes he/she writes to an audience that will find the voice within the book. I think the same could be said about training. The trainer needs to have the "voice" to reach its audience...the same can be said about literature. Training can be boring at times, but when presented in a interesting manner might actually be enjoyable...like a good book.
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