Make literature a way of life for students

It is heartening to hear of the recent move to encourage exposure to literary works in mother tongue languages ("Literature in mother tongues: Engaging students with author talks, dramatisations"; Aug 1).

Previously, English texts took centre stage in the teaching of local literature. Now, with the addition of mother tongue texts, students will be able to better appreciate literature, as they draw comparisons between texts in two languages.

Since every language has its own unique style, students may also garner multiple perspectives on similar events.

Many of the chosen literary texts revolve around significant events in Singapore's history, such as the Japanese Occupation and independence. Others pay homage to Singapore's ability to prosper as a multiracial and multi-religious nation.

Some tend to touch on the more personal aspects of life in Singapore. Thus, students will be more interested in literature as they are better able to relate to it.

I also know of friends who have gone on to explore the literature of other countries as a result of heightened interest in the subject.

Another way to make literary texts more approachable would be to introduce ones that move beyond aesthetic appeal to cover contentious international issues such as immigration and globalisation.

Being able to empathise with the effects of these phenomena will help students understand literature's role in helping them to see a world larger than their own.

Hopefully, students will, hence, begin to view literature not solely as a discipline, but also a way of life.

The value of literature deserves much recognition anywhere in the world. The learning of literature has practical applications to daily life, as it hones students' critical-thinking skills by calling on them to constantly question what they have read.

Additionally, it makes them more creative, as literary discussions may reveal polarising takes on the same text.

Still, the most essential thing literature can offer us is the comfort of a shared humanity through empathy.

Jamie Sim Jiaqi (Miss)