U of T prof Adam Hammond bridges gaps between computer modeling and English in new course
|Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List|
In times when many are pressed to defend the value of literary reading and/or budgetary allotments in support of literary reading, it is often useful to NOT rely solely upon the expertise of English teachers. Unlike other curricular areas where the information or skills have fairly easily determined practical potential, literary reading's value is less well-known by our colleagues who, perhaps have made quite fine lives for themselves without having spent more than the required undergraduate commitment to literature courses.
And, unfortunately, for too many of them, the instructors of those required courses, often felt the need to focus quite heavily upon the scholarly side of literary study rather than upon the character building, intellectual sensitizing side of contemplating the great questions at the center of the value of literary reading. And, when the focus is upon literary scholarship, and by chance that is of less interest than other, "also important" options for the focused attention demanded by higher education, literary reading begins to take a back seat to alternatives when selecting one's major field of study, most of which do also include career paths that wind up being represented in a comprehensive school curriculum.
The problem then becomes how to defend the budget allocations affecting literary reading programs when many of the stakeholders in the budget are only minimal stakeholders in literary reading's "practical" social value. Literary Reading then, like art classes and other elective courses not necessarily required for graduation, may have insufficient appreciation among our colleagues, when these programs against the ax in times when strained budgets just don't cover a truly comprehensive curriculum. The perception being that the arts and literary reading are "nice" past times, but not perceived as being all that important in the areas of "college and career readiness."
btw... why put "nice" in quotations?
"Five hundred years ago, when nice was first used in English, it meant "foolish or stupid." This is not as surprising as it may seem, since it came through early French from the Latin nescius, meaning "ignorant."
Mirriam Webster online
Ironically, many still use the word, believing they're being polite or sarcastic when a mediocre performance of a skill is rewarded with a pat on the head (or honorable mention ribbon) and a, "nice try." Or, the more sarcastic comment made by one person to another wearing a grandma-knitted sweater with no visible connection to current fashion, "Oh, NICE sweater!" (snicker, snicker)
Okay digression past...
My real point being that when English teachers alone defend the value of literary reading, there are those among our professional colleagues who think literary reading is "nice," but disposable when budgets are tight.
What really helps is when we who teach literary reading can also rely upon those who have chosen very different career paths come to our defense because they have come to recognize the value of literary reading from a more accessible point of view, its measurable practical value.
We are seeing this kind of support coming from neuroscience. See...
Your Brain on Fiction
This is your brain on Jane Austen, and Stanford researchers are taking notes
We're also seeing this kind of support coming from Business. See this article from the Harvard Business School...
For Those Who Want to Lead, Read
What I particulary appreciate about today's scooped article is the consideration of what computer sciences can provide as a means to critically examine literature with quantitative analysis, using computer technology.
One "discovery" in the attempt is the realization that “Computer science assumes there’s one truth. English [does] not.”
And, rather than dismiss one as being the correct assumption and the other as being an incorrect assumption, it becomes potentially comprehensible that the non literary scholar portion of society can perhaps come to accept that both assumptions have merit in the process of helping our students construct a deeper understanding of the many facets required for a more complete understanding of the "real world."
This may well be the foundation for reframing the case for literary reading in such a way that the emphasis upon practicality is presented in the jargon, NOT of literary scholarship, but rather in the language of
the non-literary reading listeners.
A not-trivial aside...
It is fairly well-accepted that in the United States the adult population literacy rate is above 99%. This is a tribute to our colleagues working with literacy education. My guess is that although the students they work with in grades pre-K through 12 may not be anywhere near 99% literate upon entry into literacy programs, that the vast majority of the eventual 99% adult literacy rate is achieved because of the percentage of literacy that is reached by 12th grade.
But, did you know that according to the National Endowment for the Arts survey of 2002 and the update of 2008 that once students leave 12th grade, those in the 18-24 year old range who are considered to be literary readers falls to only 51.7%. And, yes that includes those who actually go on to higher education. To be truly depressed, if we remove those who do get a high school diploma but do not go on to any higher education experiences, the rate falls to a mere 39.1%. That is 60.9% (about 17.5 million in real numbers) pretty much stop reading literature once it is no longer required.
And to make things even worse, the bar distinguishing literary readers from non-literary readers is extremely low. To be considered a literary reader, a surveyed 18-24 year old, need only be able to confirm that he or she had read as little as a single unrequired poem, short story, play, or novel in the preceding 12 months! There was no "literary quality" check. ANY poem, short story, play or novel would do.
We may need to take advantage of our friends outside of literary scholarship who are articulating the value of literary reading to the greater audience as we "market" our case in the budget allocation conversations.
And, we may also need to reflect upon how we "market" the case for literary reading in our classrooms to our primary clientele.