Today my heart was warmed.
Eleven, eight- and nine-year-olds gasped in disbelief when I told them of a college student’s editorial about how reading classical texts was a waste of time. Their feelings were fully justified as they stated exactly why and how this editorial conveyed falsehoods.
They believe that by reading we gain insight into the past, learn about ourselves and others through character relationships, as well as make meaningful connections to our lives, other texts, and to the world.
When told of the college student’s reasoning as to why reading was a waste of time (reading cutting into time that could be best spent socializing) my students mentioned that you could get together with your friends and discuss the books you were reading. (Ha! From their mouth to God’s ears, I say.) I feel it’s worth mentioning that two more students exemplified this idea by explaining that their weekend plans included a game of touch football while they recited lines from a Shakespearean play. The importance of making connections was also stated beautifully when one student made a connection from the fairies in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (the classical text we are currently studying) to a fairy known to all children-the tooth fairy.
I believe that by listening to them today, I gained insight.You may rest assured that all is not lost because our future includes young people not demanding more television or computer time, but young people readily arguing the importance of studying great literature.