WHY CLASSIC LITERATURE IS NO LONGER RELEVANT TO TECH SAVY TEENS (OR NOT).
The emergence of improved technology and the evolution of language have created a disparity in the perspective of English Teachers, Liberians and that of students. The reason for this has been the difference in opinion and basis of selection when deciding what book to read. It is believed that students are apt to read a short prose of cell phone texts than they are to read classic novels or anything written before the twentieth century. If a book like Hearts of Darkness is assigned to a student, it is prone to be considered as a means of punishment rather than pleasure or educative. Teachers now have to scan the internet for proof of plagiarized papers.
The view of the student can be slightly justified as most classics are a far cry from the present reality in the world they live in. Values and cultures have changed; technology has improved. The evolution of language also greatly affects this change. The language of past writers like Shakespeare is very hard to understand. Taking time to specially study the language would have been a better option but its relevance to the present mode of communication makes learning it seem like a waste of time.
Every field has aspects that does not relate to the present time, yet it is studied diligently. Language should be treated similarly. The inability to understand the ‘hard’ language of past writers should not be an excuse. The student should be encouraged to revisit some of the classics. Beyond the language and theme, there are good values that can be learned from these books.
It will be appropriate to evaluate some classics.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville has been labelled by students as too long, elaborate and boring. However, it is a book that reflects the need for successful relationship and interaction with fellow mankind. The thought of hunting a whale’s sperm sounds absurd but the humour in the tale cannot be ignored.
Tess of d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy is another book that needs to be given some thought. The trial she faced as a result of the rape and pregnancy, how she is later hunted by her past, the death of her mother are experiences to learn from.
The consequence of unplanned pregnancy can be seen in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. A reflection on racism and social equality in Harper Lee’s Classics. The need to embrace individuality in The World According To Garb by John Irving. Learning to fight injustice as seen in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The danger of snap judgement in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Regardless of the discrepancies between recent time sci-fi novels and old time classic novels, teens should be open to the classics and take a break from the technology as the classics open our eyes, challenges our imagination and improved our vocabulary. The relevance of the classics cannot be overemphasized; teens should be encouraged to develop their taste for literature.