View Full Version : Does he really need lit analysis?

05-09-2013, 07:43 PM
Really? I can never remember using lit analysis once in my adult life and only in one college class which was very basic.
If my son was heading to a 4 yr degree right off the bat I might think it was more important. But in reality, he will likely go to community college or a trade program (if I'm lucky). He really wants to enlist in the Marines, but I'm hoping to get him to take a year or 2 of college before enlisting. I'm all for the Marines, but I think if he can get an assoc degree or trade, it will help him in the Marines.

I know it will be a fight to get him him to do it and I rather spend that time on something more useful like science or a shop class. But will it really make a difference if he gets some literature analysis?


05-09-2013, 07:56 PM
we didnt really do any, but this year (junior year) we're doing Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings - its actually pretty light on analysis and he's not really 'getting' it at all . . he's never had much abstract reasoning, he's a very concrete person. I figure i'm glad we did at least 1 attempt at it, so I can check it off the list .. .

05-09-2013, 08:03 PM
If we did do some, I was thinking LOTR would be the way to go because he just read the series last fall and enjoyed it.

05-09-2013, 08:07 PM
I think it's worth doing some as a framework for discussion and to enrich understanding of books. Even if a kid doesn't love it *now* then being able to make connections, pick out themes, etc. is something they may appreciate later in life. But does it have to be the overarching focus of high school English like it is in many schools? Goodness, no. I think it's just worth introducing.

05-09-2013, 10:45 PM
Do you know for a fact every educational step he'll take and what the required steps are? Entrance requirements are constantly changing. Course requirements change as well. Some will argue that lit. analysis in and of itself is important to know (like my brother, the English Lit teacher). An even stronger point in favor, to me, is that we do not know what path my ds will take. It is likely that at some point a lit paper will be required. I'd rather he know how to crank one out.

05-10-2013, 10:22 AM
I think learning literary analysis is valuable, because it's another way to think. Very few people are going to remember all the facts they're taught in K-12, but they develop new capabilities for thought and reason that do stay with them, and can be applied throughout their lives. Learning algebra at a high school level is generally a very linear process, as is logic and a lot of the science available at that level. Literary analysis and social science helps develop a capacity for analysis, and nuanced understanding of seemingly disconnected material. I think a deliberate study of literary analysis is particularly helpful to people who don't have the kinds of brains that do it naturally. They don't need to be masters at it, or even particularly competent. However, a solid introduction is an doorway to a world they may have skipped entirely. It enriches the reading the will do for pleasure, education, or work down the road.

I know that it's a hard thing to do with some kids. My daughter is on the spectrum and she has a lot of trouble with personal connections to fictional characters. During her fourth grade year she was expected to repeatedly write structured 5 paragraph papers, doing "personal commenting" about the novels she was reading. OMG There was screaming, tears, catatonia. We're taking a different path now that we're at home, but I still insist that we discuss the aspects of literary analysis the frustrate and scare her. I honestly believe we can get to place where she can do her own version of that kind of commenting and thought about what she reads, just more slowly and with a gentler touch.

05-10-2013, 10:56 AM
I agree that the value of lit analysis is that it encourages kids to learn and practice critical THINKING skills (such as they are learning in science and math) in areas that aren't clean and linear AT ALL. Applying logic and analysis to algebra is easy and natural, but literature is hearder. You know, it's like REAL LIFE. It's logic unleashed.

Literature is often a contrived reflection or snapshot of life, and one we can examine in the third person. At its heart, lit analysis is looking at the characters, their motivations, their desires, the themes that drive the story of their lives. Being able to better understand them and articulate them is a step at the tougher job of being able to see and articulate those themes in our own lives.

At least that is how I would approach lit analysis with my kids, by using lit with which they connected and drawing out the how/why they connected, esp if they were not interested in lit analysis. ;)

05-13-2013, 01:27 PM
Thanks everyone. I think we will try the Lord of the Rings program so he has some basics and we will see how that goes.

05-13-2013, 03:26 PM
Everyone needs the ability to read and think critically. I don't believe literary analysis is the only way to teach that skill. If it ends up being a real struggle, I might think about shifting to a focus on critical reading of non-fiction including contemporary best sellers in science and social science, newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times, etc.

05-13-2013, 03:40 PM
We do lots of critical thinking work. He enjoys reading lots of history and we compare/contrast different books he reads and why the facts may be different. We also encourage him to read the newspaper/current news and tell us what he thinks about articles and then discuss the merits of it, the "slant" it may have, fact vs opinion, or why the statistics may not be accurate, etc.
Analyzing a story just isn't of interest to him in the same way as the above. But if we can do something he enjoyed, hopefully it won't be such a struggle.