Literature as a Way of Life

Did you know that we can learn so much from books? It's what I've been writing about for years. Turns out, research confirms my own theories.

Lately, I haven’t been as active on my blog as I would have liked. That’s because, in addition to my work at school and as a proper book lecturer, interviewer and performer (sheesh, it still sounds so cool when I write it all out!), I have also been doing a supplementary course in teaching. This course has almost come to an end. We just need to do a presentation on the topic we’ve been investigating. My topic? It could only be one thing: literature! Read on!

Last year, a colleague proposed doing this course together. It would be fun to travel to Utrecht (which is a two-hour train journey away), we’d learn so much, and we’d finally be able to do research on how to improve our English curriculum. Of course I agreed. Over the course of a year, we learned so much about anthroposophy (which is the theory our school has based its vision on), about how to give feedback, about how to speak well, about the spiritual world, and, perhaps even most importantly, about ourselves. It was all very interesting, and in the end we had to add to all the interestingness by doing research which we could eventually apply to our lessons at school. Obviously, I picked literature.

While doing my research, I discovered that, according to anthroposophical theories, literature is essential for the development of children – nay, for the development of humanity. The things that happen in fictional worlds serve as a mirror for our own experiences. Furthermore, we can apply our own identity to fictional characters, and can use made-up events in order to tackle our real-world problems. It’s great, isn’t it?

The older children become, the more they’re able to think critically. Where literature can be a way to learn a language, or teach us the basic things about ourselves (through fairy tales, for instance), it can also show us how history has changed over the years, and how the issues we struggle with have changed with them (or not). Literature, then, is a way to open up one’s mind. Every single book one reads allows us to change the way in which we view the world.

So, when I was doing my research, I realised that all these theories echo my own blog. Each book I’ve read tells its own specific story, and I can learn something different from all of them. They can show me a part of the world I know nothing about, they can revisit stories we all thought we knew, such as myths or fairy tales, but with a modern perspective, or they can contemplate philosophical questions through science fiction. In a way, even in those I dislike, there are lessons and kernels of truth to be found in every single book.

Sometimes, my students are whining about how they don’t like reading books because they’re boring. Well, I’ll just tell them that books are about themselves, and since they find themselves infinitely interesting, they cannot possibly claim books are boring, can they?

Lately, I haven’t written as much on my blog as I would have liked. That’s because I was doing research on literature. Turns out, I already knew all about the power of literature without having to read about it.

Which book taught you a lot? Do you agree with my statements on how reading enlightens us all? Should we read more in order to learn more about the world? Please share your thoughts in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me for more book-related posts!

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