Rethink how literature is taught in junior colleges

I agree with Mr Francis Cheng ("Schools can do more to promote English literature"; Feb 12) that more should be done to promote literature to local students.

However, making this subject compulsory may not be an effective solution.

Students are reluctant to take literature because of several reasons.

First, it is perceived to be "useless", compared to subjects like economics.

Second, the nature of literature means that the marking criteria is very subjective and, sometimes, highly dependent on the discretion of the examiner.

Third, junior college students who take up literature must commit two full years to it. This may scare off those who just want to try their hand at it without delving too deeply into it.

We need a multi-pronged approach to solve this problem.

Literature is the study of humans. But, sometimes, the school is too concerned with the technique and analysis of the text, meaning that the "human" part is left out.

The teaching and assessment of literature should be altered to make it more relatable to real life.

A-level subjects also tend to focus more on depth, but not breadth, of knowledge.

Perhaps a new combined humanities subject could be introduced, whereby selected topics from various humanities subjects are integrated into one H2 subject, so students can gain exposure to a wider range of knowledge, including literature.

Qu Aohan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2017, with the headline 'Rethink how literature is taught in junior colleges'. Print Edition | Subscribe