I want to know why it is important to study literature in high school.I want to know why it is important to study literature in high school.

Expert Answers
jilllessa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the history of the world there has been an ongoing conversation of the ideas and  values that shape our society and have shaped each successive society.  If you want to take part of this "Great Conversation" of ideas that underlie the very world that we live in - our governments, our religions, our culture, our entertainment, and our economy, you need to understand the conversation that has happened previously before you can truly jump into its current.  If you have ever tried to jump into a conversation in the middle - you should see how awkward that can be - you will often merely rehash old ideas that have already been said.  This conversation was not played out in speech, it has been played out in the great works of literature, philosophy, and history.  This is why literature is important.    It asks the questions and poses the answers to universal questions of life that have effected mankind over the course of existence.  It encourages you to think about why you do what you do and question whether you are truly thinking about the results of your actions.  These types of questions allow you to help shape your world rather than being shaped by a culture that you do not really understand.

rshaffer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I teach literature to my students, I always try to relate it to modern day life.  There are really only 7 themes in literature, and just as history repeats itself, so do the themes in literature, just in different genres and eras.  For example, my students didn't find The ScarletLetter appealing until we discussed the parallels to today's world of marriage, infidelity, "the double standard," etc.  I also found an article from 2005 that was titled, "Florida 'Scarlet Letter'  Law Repealed by Gov. Bush," which I shared with my students.  It was fascinating to them to see that only 4 years ago, in the state of Florida, if a unwed mother wanted to put her baby up for adoption, she had to disclose in the newspaper her past sexual history, including every partner she had, with a full physical description of her partners, etc. 

So you see, time periods may change, but poeple and society basically stay the same.  The same themes that were present in the past, are still true today, and will remain in the future.

timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If for no other reason, each of our range of vision is pretty much limited to our own experience, but there is a whole other world out there facing a host of issues/problems/situations whatever, and we can learn a lot about ourselves from seeing how they react to their situations.  This works for novels (eg. The Scarlet Letter mentioned above and the whole questions of isolation for values that it contains, among others), plays (such as Death of a Salesman which asks basic questions about the value of work and its role in our lives), and poems such as "Death of the Hired Man" which asks what the root of human dignity is and what our responsibilities are to each other.  Obviously these are just 3 randomly chosen examples (because I have taught them all recently :)), but I know that without reading them, my whole view of the world would be much narrower.

There are lots of other reasons to study literature, but this is good enought for me :)

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is important to study literature in high school for several reasons. First and foremost it will enhance your academic abilities in other areas. Also,reading literature from different time periods, from different places will only add to your understanding of the human experience. Many high schools design their English/Literature classes to correspond with their History classes by approximate time and place in order to offer the student a deeper understanding of that time and place, you will learn how to critically think. Another gift literature gives the student is an increased vocabulary. High school students today will graduate into an ever more competitive world and with an increased vocabulary your speech will become more articulate. Possessing these skills will clearly set you above those who do not. In the end it's a win-win for you !!! 

tpisano eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As I tell my students, reading and writing are best friends.  You need to be able to do one in order to do the other.  This will improve your communication skills.  You need to be able to communicate clearly, through writing and speaking, in order to be taken seriously in life.   When I am approached by an individual who can not communicate clearly I am less inclined to take them seriously.  Also, studying literature helps you understand the world.  Most literature, or should I say most good literature, speaks of issues that are still present in our current society.  We learn a great deal from studying the ideas of others.  Finally, why not? It is a beautiful thing if you give it the chance.

pippin1313 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a teacher, I find that I use my literature studies to encourage students to think about what they are presented with in everyday life, especially by the media.

By studying literature, both classical and contemporary, one learns to read more into what they are presented with. No piece ever has just one straightforward reading and by showing what different aspects and readings are available, you learn to see other viewpoints. Nothing in our modern world is ever black and white, literature allows you to start seeing shades of grey.

litchick2011 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Not only does literature allow a chance for the reader to experience other cultures at a fairly cheap price, it also promotes critical thinking and reasoning....a great piece of literature will keep you thinking, inspire you, etc.

Wiggin42 | Student

Literature is what makes us human. There is an immense satisfaction from reading a novel that speaks to you; whose very words touch your soul. Its an amazing relief to know that you and your doubts, dreams, and concerns are not alone in this world; that there were people before you who struggled just as you do now. It alleviates the feeling of being alone in life. Studying literature exposes us to new ideas, cultures, and people which can broaden your mind.

ashwinee17 | Student

I have a debate to do, and my topic is: Literature is not important as a subject in High School. Can anyone give me any ideas for this topic.

kmieciakp | Student

It's also important to study literature in high school because you need to pass English to graduate.  As you go through life, you will run into things you have to do because the people in authority, those who hold the key to your moving on, have decided you need to do them.  This is called "jumping through hoops."  Though this answer is not as philosophical as the other wonderful answers, it is just as true.

zumba96 | Student

I've honestly loved reading ever since I was a child and this has been a huge impact on who I am today. In english classes you will learn a bunch of differenct aspects, but literature is something different. I'm taking AP Literature this year and it honestly one of my favorite classes. Besides learning the meanings behind the literature, you also understand the themes and analyzing what they mean. It is honestly the best class. Literature classics are everywhere and this is one class everyone should take. 

moosaa | Student

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