Why study literature? Why read fiction? Why spend one’s life teaching it... What’s the point? Students do not take literature to learn only what constitutes a metaphor or a simile; they take literature because metaphors and similes say something. New insights are discovered and new meanings encountered with the accumulated knowledge of each literary device. Such substantive reading leads to substantive reflection.
The Giver is about Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy who lives in a futuristic society where life appears to be nothing less than idyllic. If everything is so perfect, why has it been one of the most controversial books in American schools since its release in 1993? Like most books about so-called utopias, this society has a dark underbelly, one some parents see as “too dark” for middle-schoolers.
Albert Einstein is literally the face of the STEM education society is so pre-occupied with these days. We see his likeness on countless numbers of brochures for science programs, camps, and fairs. Bearing this in mind, a lot of us would be shocked to discover that he championed a liberal arts education. Given (as the expression goes), when we look up “genius” in the dictionary we see a picture of Einstein, we should listen to what he has to say.
People have been telling stories since the dawn of time. But, as much as some of us like to just kick back and ride a good narrative, storytelling has never been just about entertainment. Why are books written, then, if not for readers’ gratification?