My Daughter’s high school held an event recently where the parents spent seven minutes in each of the student’s classes and followed the same class schedule. It was a neat experience and was very nostalgic traveling from class to class, just as I did in my school days. However, one class really seemed to strike a nerve with me.
As we sat in the English class, the teacher explained that although the students will read some of the classics (Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Mark Twain, etc…) the main reading focus will be geared toward a more technical aspect. They will split the workload 50/50, however will spend more time on technical writings.
According to the group of teachers, they feel that most of the employment opportunities out there require more technical reading skills than those skills experienced when reading fiction. I guess I can understand the rationalization of their thoughts, but is it true? Honestly, I was very upset at the thought and almost started a debate on the subject. If it weren’t for the strict seven minute time limit in the class, and the look my daughter gave me, I might have spoke up.
As a writer, I believe that Fiction is an absolute necessity in a child’s daily learning. Without fiction, the imagination would be limited, and we would probably never have seen many of today’s inventions. Think about it, how many of today’s electronics have you seen in the past, whether in a book or in a movie, and how many of those movies were based on a book? I can still remember seeing Marty McFly talking to his boss on a video chat/phone in Back to the Future part 2. At the time it was an impossible dream, today it is mainstream (I am still waiting for my hover board and flying car though).
Without a focus on fiction, I fear that imagination and dreams will be replaced with blue prints and schematics. I guess schematics and blueprints still lay groundwork for the advancement of technology, but will everything start to serve only a purpose, without a creative/cosmetic appeal?
Many of today’s technological advancements were designed, and code was written, by specialists in their fields. However, there was also a certain amount of creativity and imagination employed. Someone had to think back to childhood and base their design off of something that stuck with them. For example, many of today’s video games include elements of classic fiction novels, short stories, fables, and poems. Many have developed into masterpieces all their own.
Take the Final Fantasy worlds, for example. In Final Fantasy X we met Tidus, character that felt he had to prove to the world that he was the best Blitzball player. Unfortunately, his dad could perform at least one move that he could not master. However, his Dad had disappeared without a trace, and always seemed disappointed in him, so he was never taught. Suddenly, when he is at the top of his game, and confidence, he was whisked away to an unfamiliar world. Everything he thought he knew, was now in question. We see him evolve from a self absorbed, yet somewhat insecure (at least to himself)Blitzball champion, to someone that is out of place and probably more insecure than he ever was while faking at being the best there is. In the end we see a character that evolves into someone that is confident, knows his place, and is comfortable in his own skin. What we see is a complete transformation and evolution in the character. His changes might be subtle to some, however when you immerse yourself into “his story”, as well as the other characters, you become emotionally involved. The soundtrack of the masterpiece completes the entire storyline.
I would argue that if Sakaguchi spent his early years reading technical books, we would not have such an emotional experience while playing Final Fantasy X. In fact, we might not have even played Final Fantasy I if not for classical fictional writings.
Although I do not agree with the school’s decision to de-emphasize the focus on fictional writings, I will sit back and see how it plays out. I might however, sign up for career day and speak about my two published stories as well as the novels I have in the works, and explain to the students the importance of fiction and exercising the imagination.
Have you seen similar changes of focus in your school? What are your thoughts? Have you confronted the staff and question their rationalization?
**Essel Pratt works in an office by day and writes for Infendo.com and Nerdzy.com in his spare time. He has published Two Stories and is working on a couple Novels and on Anthology. You can follow him on Facebook andTwitter.
No related posts.