The Lost Sense of Literature & A New Language

Sense of Literature news

Am I to be blamed????

Then I think may be yes and may be not. Why was it that when we were studying we respected our teachers? Text books, on occasions, we still consider as the incarnation of Goddess Saraswati. Our teachers, however strict they used to be, we still have a soft corner for them. But sad to say the same is not received by us as teachers today. The journey which began as a student has come thus far and I have become a teacher but I have been a witness and seen many things change in between… many things!

Today when I teach the same subject (English) to my students, I feel I am not able to create the same environment, the same effect on them. They might score good marks but I don’t feel satisfied with their writing, with their performance. Somewhere I feel that this is not what they are worthy of and this is certainly not what I deserve. I can smell a sense of lacking – in me, in them, and us all and no one is ready to take the stead and point out – ‘hey see, we need to do this now or we are the losers ultimately!’

I tried to find out the cause of the same indifference for academic literature. Why they don’t feel the need of their teachers, why they don’t want to be creative in their writing They are satisfied with whatever they write, good or bad. Actually, neither I nor they are to be blamed. They are the children of this techno-age. From anything to everything, all can easily be found on the internet and with the help of that glass screen which responds to the hits of our fingers. Why at all do they need teachers? There is no need to attend lectures. There is no need to read the long texts which are a part of their syllabus. GOOGLE does it all. Mr Google is their new teacher. Be it any subject. GOOGLE KNOWS IT ALL. They can find the short summaries and copy them; they can find the critical insights and memorise those; they can find all kinds of absurdity about a poem; they can find the meaning of a lyrical drama without bothering to read even a scene…

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Aren’t we becoming the slaves to this technology? Earlier, for enhancing our vocabulary, we used to look into the dictionary. And I still remember the kids who boasted of those voluminous piles of papers containing innumerable (in a sense) meanings. Dictionary knew it all! Dictionary was considered a valuable source of information. It’s sad to say even if available in the library or at home, a dictionary is a piece which will be found bathing in the dust, hidden from the world in some darker corridors which are visited only on occasions – Diwali or New Year. We visit and we wipe the dust off and then leave that at the same place for next year’s homage… and why bother when Google tells you the word even before you take pain to type it completely!

‘A thing of beauty’ by Keats or Julius Caesar by Shakespeare are some of the masterpieces of literature which required the expertise of the teacher to make children understand. Various dramatic sequences and enactments used to be a part of the reading of this play. The teachers used to feel proud after successful completion of the lesson that they finally did justice to these literary masters, today the same play cries in the hands of smart boards and Google paraphrasing. Neither the students understand the romanticism involved in the poem nor the betrayal of Brutus. As a result, the students are hollow. They develop no sense of literature. Their knowledge is incomplete and lame.

Not only this, the messaging apps have taught them a new kind of language. Slangs and short forms fill their answers and I feel sorry to accept that they write ‘thnq for thank you’ and so consider it a single word. This is the language of the youth which is trending high. They are the ones who write ‘osm for awesome’ and they believe the same to be correct. This generation needs no teachers; they study through Google – learn through Google. Appear for tests online and get selected online. I, as a literature student, stand perplexed as I see Chetan Bhagat included in the syllabus for a higher degree in literature along with Shakespeare. I wonder where will it end.

And I still contemplate whether I should be blamed for this????


feature article by Nidhi Sharma