The question is when should you open the world for children once they have learned their ABC’S? Should they be able to put those letters together in sentences, meaningful paragraphs, and create great essays? I as a student always had a problem with nouns, pronouns, past and present participles and other forms of English grammar. I dreaded taking a required English course because grammar did not really relate to writing for me. My world opened up as “Malcolm X” said when I took this course with a great teaching professor. I read, but I did not comprehend like “Richard Rodriquez”. I created a career for myself like “Cato the Shamrock” but I did not understand. No longer am I a stuff sausage casing expressed by “Harris.” I am now an oyster wanting to read and take apart literary works. Can you imagine if you created this connection in elementary schools, as soon as they are able to put sentences together, there would be great scholars everywhere?
First of all children as well as adults need to be able to connect to what words mean in a text. They should be able to see their world in the past and understand what it will possibly mean in their future. Young students have open minds and if given great works of literature, this will change them spiritually. An example of this is the children who have gone to church, synagogues, and mosques. I consider the Koran, Torah, and Bible, great works. Many young people who have been taught from these books understand what they symbolize. Students that are taught from spiritual works have a different demeanor than those who have had no exposure to books of thought. Some of the students have gone on to become great leaders and writers such as Martin Luther King and Walt Whitman.
Next, literature should be a required reading in the home by parents. Every “house” should have a library for students to access. Unlike Samuel Levenson, I purchased books from the thrift store and manage to keep a great library. Whenever my children had to research papers, they only had to reach on a shelf for great books. Imagine my surprise when my young twelve year old daughter, whom, in a debate with another student, who attended private school, stood on our front porch and claimed she read Edgar Alan Poe who wrote, “The Pit and the Pendulum” and Charles Dickens who wrote “Great Expectations” for a class project. My daughter Sanda responded in kind, “I read those as leisure reading, we have these books in my house.” Then she produced them as proof, I felt so proud at that moment.
Then “Literary Verse” should be given to the children as a thought for the day. When I was in school, we would meet everyday in the auditorium, our instructors and Principal would give this information first thing in the morning. Then at the end of this session he would read to us a passage from a great book such as Kahlil Gibran who wrote, “Learn the words of wisdom uttered by the wise and apply them in your own life.” The principal would then go on to make us understand what this author was trying to say and relate it to us. Throughout my day I contemplated on those words. I actually went to the school library to read about this author, who is my favorite. Whenever I thought about doing something unsavory, that thought for the day raced across my mind like rushing waves, needless to say, I changed my mind about what I was going to do.
Finally, exposure to great writing is never a waste of time. These powerful works were given to mankind to make them think, wonder and try to understand what this world is about. Schools want to change the overall attitude of the student. Give them something to hold onto such as the German Physicist Albert Einstein who wrote, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” These words in a science and math class would make students strive harder to understand relativity in a whole new light.
In conclusion English Literature will open minds, create new waves of thought and calm the idle mind.