This study explores the relevance of literature in building awareness on social, cultural, political, and environmental awareness. The world today is grappling with issues that border on prejudice and political apathy among the young generation. Besides, issues such as pollution illustrate the lack of environmental awareness in society. There are also many social ills that plague society. These problems have emerged in the wake of the technological age that has watered down of the school curriculum coupled with the rise of the internet and the hyperlink culture (Paul, 2012). This study was exploratory in nature. A review of earlier studies on the significance of literature was done. Literature studies have reduced thereby limiting the students’ ability to think and develop their critical reasoning abilities. Literature enables students to be aware of the history of the world cultures and their significance. In this respect, students understand their roles and analyze critically different aspects of society. Therefore, there is a need for educators to reinforce literature studies in schools to develop students into critical thinkers that will help transform society.
Key words: literature, political, social, environmental, cultural, critical, thinking
Can literature help us to build awareness on social, cultural, political and/or environmental issues?
This paper uses the articles by Frye and Paul to illustrate how literature helps to build awareness on social, cultural, political or environmental issues. According to Frye many people believe that exposure to challenging works of literature is good for the mind (Frye, 2010). Scholars like Northrop Frye cry of the loss and lack of the ability to think among the current generation of people (Frye, 2010). The lack of adequate exposure to literature and critical reasoning has denied the people of the understanding of basic yet fundamental concepts such as thinking. It is no wonder that stereotypes and racial discrimination still exists in the modern era (Malin & Maidment, 2003; Highway, 2015). Paul argues that the current generations of children that are consumed by the internet and media have little or no interaction with literary works to understand basic social, environmental, and political concepts (Paul, 2012). He blames all these on the lack of proper understanding of literary works that promote understanding of cultures of people. Therefore, this paper will illustrate how literature can help foster awareness of cultural, social, political and environmental issues. The understanding will allow educators to resuscitate the dying culture of literature studies and critical thinking to allow the young generations develop awareness of their environment.