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One Response to the Crisis Discussed in Writing in the Classroom
One Response to the Crisis Discussed in Writing in the Classroom
Professor Bruce Gans
Wright College
4300 N. Narragansett.
Chicago, Illinois 60634
773 481 8014

A Commentary on the Report "Reading at Risk"

The National Endowment for the Arts recently published a study, The Decline of Reading, showing that fewer and fewer adults and college age people are reading literature. As a Professor of English and founder of a Great Books Curriculum at Wright Community College in Chicago, whose population is predominantly minority and non traditional, I spend more or less every day working on the effects of adults not reading and observing key reasons for it. But before proceeding further I have to confess my concern is with the decline of serious literature in its broadest sense. I do not believe it matters one way or the other whether adults are or are not reading the light literature - mysteries, westerns, spy novels or watching such things on television.

Now, there is one key reason for this decline that never talked about. It is like the dead elephant behind the couch and nothing will improve until it changes. This is that many English faculty do not read or teach serious literature and neither the institution they work for nor the publishing houses that provide them with textbooks nor the field itself wants them to.

Now plainly, reading serious literature with proficiency and ease is not an inborn human trait; it is a skill and adults are far less likely to read serious literature if they have never been taught how to do it and consequently never experienced the deep and unique satisfactions doing so brings.

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