According to Saymo (2000) literature is a representation of life. Many beautiful memories of the past and the present can be gleaned through the study of literature. In support to the national and global collaboration, human experience can be a vehicle to achieve the fullness of man by giving opportunities to learn, develop skills, be culturally conscious and possess moral integrity.
Carpio (2003) researched that human history as seen, recorded and interpreted by writers is a witness to man’s indestructible dream to depict the human condition as narrative, lyrically or dramatically, negatively or realistically. Literary men and women have produced penetrating works. The air they create breathes of the tragic, the tragicomic and the comic. Is their environment ugly, is it beautiful, is it a conglomeration of the squalid and the profound? Writers look at reality in varied ways. If the human condition is bleak to them, they make them see and feel and read about it in works of art like literature. The range of life’s possibilities in literature keeps on enlarging and the past is linked to the present in various usable forms and attitudes and genres of works of art. It engages the turmoils, the ups and downs, the pains, pleasure and glorious moments experienced by society. It tries to understand and record the nature of man and his times and in content and form shows how man fares in his world.
In the same token, Showalter (2002) proposed ways on how to teach literature to college students. It is necessary to always read excerpts of material in class. Students often rely upon study guides and predigested responses to texts they have never experienced as living works of art. Remember to allow plenty of time for regular readings and re-readings so that its impact as sound can be enjoyed before it is analyzed simply as a complicated kind of prose. Worthy of note is to set new questions. Do not borrow questions from textbooks or any other material. Make sure the questions set have not been discussed in detail in class and the questions have to be similar but ensure that they are not the same.
It is important to note that teachers should always ask why for any piece of work because the most important question in literature is why?. Make sure every student knows the importance of this question from the first class. Train the class to be opinionated and try to interpret every line according to the reason and the intention behind it. The heart of all literature is its intention. Add fuel to the fire. There is no room for a unanimous agreement in literature. Every line is subject to interpretation, levels of importance and hidden meaning. Make sure that students are not exposed to one view.
The best way to do this is to play devil’s advocate. When they express a view, disagree. If they agree, change the view. This will make for interesting debate and force the students to defend their viewpoint and explain why they are right. Try to be as unreasonable with stand and this will get the students more heated and force them to think in the abstract manner necessary to write a literature paper. This is also good for waking up those students at the back who snooze every class. An argument is much more interesting than the face of the desk.
In like manner, Linkon (2011) cited teaching methods in literature subject. She proposed that teachers should add history to the material. As the students become familiar with the material, allow them to become familiar with the face behind the material: the writer. Tell them a little bit about their past and the way they lived their lives and some of the documented inspiration behind their works. A lot of very famous writers lived interesting and somewhat tragic and scandalous lives. It is always interesting to hear about and it might provide more meaning to their words.
Involve every single student. Each class has students that are not really interested in the material but come to class each day for unidentified reasons. Each class also has students who tend to monopolize the conversation and centre discussions towards their opinions. Avoid that at all costs. Even the lazy students can usually provide some sort of input. Ask a lot of questions and give everyone an equal shot at answering. Do not stand there and wait for an answer. Maintain an interest in each and every student. Students can usually tell if you like them or not or if you prefer one over the other. Avoid this at all costs. Teacher’s job is to promote the imagination of all the students and to treat them all equally. Talk to all of them personally at least once.
Recognize the students’ weaknesses and strengths by giving students a lot of opportunities to do various kinds of work like speaking, arguing, writing, interpreting, etc. Praise each student on their strengths and talk to them about their weaknesses. Allow students the freedom to choose the form they are more comfortable with. For example, if a student is good at verbal discussion and not good at written communication, allow for one of their assignments to be verbal. To be fair, however, give all students a chance to choose the form they are good at. Talk to the students personally about their weaknesses and how to improve them.
Grade the thought, not the content. When marking papers, be aware that literature is not like most other subjects where the content is what is essential. It is the creativity and thought behind the content that makes a literature essay stand out. Grading the content is obvious but in literature, give more marks to the student with a controversial and creative interpretation and a few less to the student with the textbook interpretation. Emphasize references. No matter how creative the thought, it has to be backed up by quotes from the material. A student might have a particularly brilliant idea but if it is disproved by the material, the idea is worthless. Stress on the fact that every claim has to be supported by lines, verses and dialogue in the text.
This course is aimed at honing students to become lovers of literature and make them love literature. This philosophical framework intends to move students to LOVE LITT or the acronym expounds:
Obtain logical and critical thinking skills
Ventilate feelings and emotions
Enhance the moral, sociological and spiritual dimensions
Listen to each other’s insights
Intends to reach out through the literary circles
Tie and deepen each other’s bond
Test one’s knowledge about oneself and the world that surrounds him
In this regard, it aims not to teach about literature, instead to teach literature itself.
Carpio, Rustica. Literature is Life. Manila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. 2003.
Linkon, Sherry Lee. Literary Learning: Teaching the English Major (Scholarship
of Teaching and Learning) Paperback. United States:
Indiana University Press. 2011.
Saymo, Apolinario. The Literatures of the World. Makati:
Grandwater Publications and Research Corporation. 2000.
Showalter, Elaine. Teaching Literature. United States:
Blackwell Publishing Company. 2002.