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“Literature” is a general term meaning communication in writing across time. As in all “should” questions, the essence is the value of any human action or endeavor. To study literature means to learn the ways the literary communication functions. Just like a child who takes an alarm clock apart to see how it works, the literature student is dissecting the body of work to discern the subtleties of its structure, its psychological connections with humans, and its connection with large ideas. The “value” of doing so lies in the “value” of understanding human communication itself – do we want to know “what makes it tick” or are we content to let it affect us without understanding why or how? If we try to give some sort of commercial or product-oriented value to it, we are mistakenly assigning a commodity value to it, far removed from its literary purpose for existing. So, in simple terms, we study literature to absorb it on a superior level, just as we would study a recipe to enjoy food on more than a nourishment level. Its importance lies in its value as a receptacle for human wisdom and understanding.
Understanding literature is an important part of becoming an effective communicator. Literature should be studied because the analysis and comprehension of texts allows a student's skills in writing, reading and speaking to be enhanced. Their debating skills, their opinions on issues and their contextual understanding are increased.
Literature's importance can be proved with the education systems in many countries. For example, in Australia, English is a mandatory subject to be studied from kindergarten to year 12 (and is the only subject compulsory for study in year 12 in Australia). Literature is studied in English, and is in fact a key component. This choice has proven to be very effective in schools across Australia.
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