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Should the study of classic literature be required?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/6/2017 Category: Education
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 777 times Debate No: 98730
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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While the study of classic literature does have its merits and, indeed, is one of my personal favorite subjects of study throughout my education, it should not be required for all students.

Art history, music appreciation, and other such classes that focus on particular art forms in a historical and analytical format can be beneficial and enjoyable for students, but they are not required. While language classes are a definite necessity given their application in most if not all professions, the study of classic literature is unnecessary in this venture.

The minimum required math classes for most students will be beneficial in most employments positions, and the choice of science classes available to most students is also helpful in allowing student to find what profession they want in life. The merit of history and social science classes in a required sense is a topic for another the debate of course, but compared to math and science courses at the very least, the emphasis on studying classic literature in language classes provides no future benefit for students other than personal enjoyment or preparation to become a professor of classic literature themselves. Furthermore, those who struggle with language classes will only be hurt more by being forced to read and understand books written in forms of English so vastly different from that used today that they will most likely never need to understand at any other point in their lives.

While the study of classic literature should still remain as an option for students, it should not be a required aspect of language classes, and should be in the same category as other elective courses that are more similar in form to itself.


I can agree with how you believe this should be an optional class rather than a required due to other curriculum similar to that of Classic literature. However, I disagree with you and believe it should be a required course or part of the English course.

1). When learning Classic literature one can increase their vocabulary
This helps with their improvement of their own vocabulary, their SAT scores and even deliver more effective presentations with a higher vocabulary list. It's worth familiarizing yourself and boosting ones intelligence. Such as reading Greek and Latin Classics, this is an example how one can increase their vocabulary word bank. Our English words have roots to these two languages and familiarizing one with the roots can even help one learn other words just by its roots. Over 60% of English words and the English language is a habit of borrowing.

2). Improves Social Skills
In a study it had shown that reading Classic Literature as to commercial fiction and Non-Fiction, shows how one can increase their perception and emotional intelligence. Especially teens having a growing state of mind during high school, this can make one more aware and better of their perception and intelligence. As well as character-driven novels can actually strengthen ones personal ethics (As long as one can distinguish the difference between the Protagonist and Antagonist).

3) one will be reading something valuable
These classics have stood the test of time; books in which we find characters, experiences, emotions, and perspectives we still relate to today. Usually these books are challenging and can be seen a good challenge for the brain to tackle building their knowledge and their brain as a whole. Will you like them all? Probably not. But the classics span every major literary genre, from fantasy (Lord of the Rings) to science fiction (Brave New World) to romance (Sense and Sensibility) and even children"s (Charlotte"s Web), so you"re bound to find something appealing.

Hence, these classics are a great thing to incorporate to essential classes since their minds are still at a young state and tackling can help them grow in so many ways. As aforementioned can help with not just vocabulary and their mind but their social lives. I disagree in which this is not as essential as the other common core classes. This as you said, can help one in their future employments because of their mind being advanced with all challenge, social skills and vocabulary it has required. Therefore, even though many of us believe we may not use most classes for the future we are quite mistaken and will later see its benefits.
Debate Round No. 1


Yes, Classic Literature does have certain benefits, such as increased vocabulary, improved social skills, and higher test scores. These benefits, as you noted, have been proven through multiple studies, and I of course agree with them, as I have noticed these benefits as I read pieces of Classic Literature myself.

However, playing an instrument has also been proven through multiple scientific studies to aid children's literacy skills, which has led to higher test scores and better academic performance than their non-musical peers. Playing instruments also statically increases high school graduations rates, lowers college dropout rates, and also generates positive emotional and social skills which will help throughout a musician's lifetime.

However, music classes are not required courses for students, despite the obvious benefits they provide to students. Should they be required? It's difficult to say, really, when you look at the research, but given that they aren't currently, it follows that the study of classic literature should not be required either. For many students, reading at the vocabulary level of some of the greater Classics is just as difficult as learning a musical instrument, if not more so.

Now, language classes will almost certainly require some reading in order to apply language and literacy skills, and given its benefits, Classic Literature would seem to be the best option for reading material for students; however, it is the in depth of study of Classic Literature that the issue arises. An understanding of the symbolism, the cultural significance, the application of imagery, or the historical commentary of a novel are not necessary in order to allow a student to gauge their literacy skills. While such an in depth study may indeed be beneficial to students in certain ways, they should not be required as part of a curriculum whose goal is to achieve an understanding of the English language, not the cultural impact of Jane Eyre on Victorian women.

I thoroughly enjoy reading and studying Classic Literature myself, and would of course encourage students to take classes in which they too could study such great works on a deeper level. However, in the same way that all children are not forced to learn to play instruments or act in theatre, so should they not be required to take a depth of study in Classic Literature as part of a base curriculum.


I do see your point in how it can be as difficult as playing an instrument and is therefore not a required course. However, I do not believe we have to create a whole new class for this, we could incorporate this to the English class students already take, creating a section in which they learn about it.

The classics don't need to be just toward a certain type of book, it has so many options as aforementioned. Whether you want to learn languages, read literature, or learn to apply science to arts, Classics has something for everyone. he study of Classics requires students to develop the analytical skills needed to understand ancient languages and engage in disciplines such as linguistics and textual criticism. The subject"s involvement with a range of disciplines such as history, philosophy and art criticism, makes it constantly fresh and challenging and encourages mental versatility.

As you had stated that playing an instrument was not required but had been as hard to do as learning about Classic Literature. I strongly disagree with you on this for two reasons. One; being how the two aren't exactly the same and two; of what they affect a student in the future.

When a student wants to play an instrument they can learn at such a young age and of course none of it is given as a school curriculum in the elementary schools. Or when one gets older not all are given the options. Also when a student plays an instrument it not only helps with the mind and comprehension it can help their future. Students can actually get scholarships for playing an instrument, they can go on trips to compete with other schools, but Classic Literature cannot do this.

When a student would learn about Classic Literature they already learn about it partly at a young age such as; Charlotte's Web and Lord of the Rings. These of course are books and haven't been a requirement yet students still chose to read it exposing themselves to it at a younger age. When putting higher Classics in front of them and having them analyze it, students cannot get a scholarship in the future for just one class or English class because they are so good at it. Yes, I understand they can do events in which the classics are used, but these are still unlikely to benefit them in the future (besides with their vocabulary, the social intelligence, etc).

Hence, Classic Literature and playing an instrument really aren't quite that similar. Each benefiting in their own ways and purposes. Yes, I do play a few instruments myself and understand how it can "be the same as learning Classics" but really it also depends on the student. As for myself I struggle more in comprehension with the classics than learning a new instrument (but of course this is just myself).
Debate Round No. 2


Most students are exposed to reading before they are exposed to the opportunities of playing musical instruments; however, reading any book in order to learn to read and gain comprehension, vocabulary, and language skills is not the same as studying Classics. The study of Classic Literature involves a more in depth investigation than most students will experience until the seventh or eighth grade at the earliest.

Almost any book can help a child to read, but not every child has the same interests; in case of Classic Literature, some students may be partial to contemporary fiction, some to historical fiction, and some to any genre of nonfiction. To limit a child to specific set of books based on studies and research is not the best option, as the more individualized a curriculum is, the better a student is able to learn. For example, an experience of mine in a previous literature class involved Jane Eyre, a novel that I simply could not force myself to find any interest in whatsoever. However a friend of mine loved the novel, declaring it to be her favorite book of all time. Our grades after finishing the novel reflected the fact that students tend to do better in subjects they are interested in.

As such, allowing students a choice of academic interest would increase their test scores, GPA, and the amount of material the will actually learn. There are a variety of fields in which study promotes certain academic and life skills; the choices would not be limited to music or Classic Literature study. It could include art, art history, theatre, speaking, international studies, etc. Perhaps obligating students to choose electives from predetermined list of the most beneficial options would be a viable solution. Anything that gives students more of choice would more beneficial.

You yourself said that have an easier time learning a new instrument than studying the Classics. If a student could have devoted more time to learning an instrument, something they are genuinely interested in, than studying something they have no interest in, like Classic Literature, then not only would they be able to focus and improve more on their class of choice, but they would learn that subject better than they would a subject they are uninterested in.

Therefore,the element of choice creates for students a more individualized, and therefore more effective, learning environment, and making the study of Classic Literature optional is a great way to implement this education technique.


When one exposes a student to something early on in age, it can lead to a build up to improvement on what they learned early on. I understand books are seen as a requirement, but when teachers create it a requirement, it can help show an interest in something they hadn't known they were interested in. So 'your' classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you to define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him. I see we can even see these with other books too, but the classics are such a great mind development and when relating to the book/author it can be a good improvement for that student.

And yes, most books can help children read and of course everyone has their different interest. But when reading/learning a classic you really are 're-reading' the book. A classic does not necessarily teach us anything we did not know before. In a classic we sometimes discover something we have always known (or thought we knew), but without knowing that this author said it first, or at least is associated with it in a special way. And this, too, is a surprise that gives a lot of pleasure, such as we always gain from the discovery of an origin, a relationship, an affinity.

Of course it's not like we just limit the kids to certain books, teachers give them some choices and they always have their choices to read more if they wish to do so. As Cassandra Clare said "Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry." In other words literature can improve and help build our minds if we let it. So if we introduce it to students at school we can help grown their mind.

Also, kids never know what they actually like unless they have been expose to it (even for a while). So kids never really know what they like or don't unless we expose it to them and better to let it accumulate over the years. So of course if we include it part of their English curriculum at a younger age, over they years they can build a love/interest in it. But of course all children are different so it can't be that we fit everything so everyone likes it. I don't like my science class but of course some of my friends do. I may not like chemistry, it doesn't mean they should get rid of it because I won't be interested in it.

Hence, we can't change everything to accommodate everyone interest, so of course not everyone will enjoy it. But including this into the curriculum whether as a whole class or part of English can greatly benefit the students in the future. It would increase vocabulary, comprehension and ones own intelligence. Therefore, the reasons why I believe it should be included.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by S.S_NZ 1 year ago
Yes, I did believe that was a good topic of debate, you had really stumped me. Nice job
Posted by DStallman 1 year ago
On a side-note, studying the positive effects of learning musical instruments on children made me realize that mandatory music classes would also be a great topic for debate.
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