In addition to my job here at Orgwide Services, I teach two high school literature classes to a group of homeschoolers. I enjoy teaching and upon reflection, I have realized that lessons from high school literature class still apply in the real world — whether you remember learning them or not. There are many lessons I teach my students and while much of it seems specific to a particular book, there are underlying, broader lessons to be learned from a high school literature class.
Lesson 1: Good writing skills are valuable. While most (if not all!) students don’t usually enjoy writing essays, the fact is it teaches you how to communicate well. Writing essays hones the student’s ability to express their ideas and opinions clearly. In high school, students write all kinds of things from literary analysis essays, persuasive essays, and more. In the real world, this ability to communicate clearly is invaluable, especially in the work place where proposals, memos, and e-mails need to be understandable.
Lesson 2: Analyzing poetry is not a waste of time. In my experience, poetry is most likely to be my students’ least favorite part of the curriculum. I don’t blame them too much, because poetry can be difficult to understand. But that is exactly the benefit to analyzing poetry; doing so teaches the student critical thinking skills. In life, as in the work place, there are problems to be solved. Being able to examine a problem from different angles and break it down in order to solve it strongly resembles studying poetry. The practice students get from analyzing poetry teaches them how to think, in addition to how to rhyme, if their future career is as a rap-star.
Lesson 3: Reading classic literature improves your mind. In my class, some books are more enjoyable to students than others. Regardless, I believe that reading literature allows the student to stretch their imagination. They must picture in their mind what is happening in the book. They grapple with universal themes from love, revenge, social injustice and more. These themes are applicable to everyday life. Not only is their imagination improved, their vocabulary increases as a result of reading classic literature. Imagination and a good vocabulary will help a student in the work place. With an active imagination, solutions to problems can be visualized and new ideas emerge. Creative problem solving is a highly sought after skill in today’s marketplace. Finally, with a good vocabulary, students can express themselves more specifically and clearly too.
These lessons are just a few I have noticed that translate into the real world after high school. High school literature class helps to build effective communication skills, critical thinking skills, and the ability to creatively solve real world problems. So while you may have thought high school literature classes were useless or pointless, I bet you learned more than you realize!