ISSUE-032

In order to become well-rounded individuals, all college students should be required to take courses in which they read poetry, novels, mythology, and other types of imaginative literature.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.


The author of this issue task seems to have experienced little hesitation before establishing the link between students’ comprehensive development and the study of imaginative literature, such as poetry, novels and mythology. Indeed, this attributes, the capability to think freely, or, to put it more directly, to emancipate one’s thinking from stale research frameworks, lay the foundation for a college student’s academic performance. Before arriving at a final decision about whether to render imaginative literature courses mandatory, however, we should consider several specific circumstances in which this recommendation could be either advantageous or disadvantageous.

Unlike various scientific courses, such as mathematics, physics or chemistry, which require meticulous observation and scrupulous computation, imaginative literature is renowned for the free domain it gives students for it does not require them to rigidly adhere to one methodology or unique principle. In addition, we can even predict the generation of an innovative marriage of unrestrained creativity and discreet academic attitude. Such a combination will surely exert a positive influence upon science students and further facilitate the process of becoming well-rounded individuals.

Courses utilizing imaginative literature are intended to encourage creativity, yet this can be jeopardized by circumstances—which go beyond students’ schedules and teaching resources available to them. First of all, reading novels and poetry is thought to offer students a temporary respite from the onerous assignments in other courses, and it is exactly because of this that students are relaxed enough to appreciate the beauty of imaginative literature. However, if compulsory literature courses have as strenuous a workload as major courses, then students’ passion is bound to languish. Their consequent reluctance to participate in the class will further impede creative thinking. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine enrollment proliferation in literature courses in the absence of sufficient teaching resources. One way to ensure course accessibility is by requiring teachers to take on more instruction, but the teaching quality, as well as teachers’ attention to each student, cannot be guaranteed. In such circumstances, the issue’s recommendation fails to provoke students’ wholehearted engagement with the material, which ultimately lies at the root of well-rounded individuals.

While I sympathize with the author’s desire to enhance college students’ creativity, I argue that he/she hastily equates students’ enrollment in literature courses with increased innovative thinking. As is often the case, however, the improvement of thinking ability is subject to various factors, such as students’ ability to absorb new information, attitudes toward assignments and frequent review of material. What matters most, however, is the potential link between literature courses and other courses students take. Not all fields are easily connected in terms of methodologies. Consequently, while imagination assumes a significant role in literature, and may serve an important methodological purpose, it cannot be used in other majors in exactly the same way. Even if it could, it does not mean that students are capable of understanding such an approach, let alone mastering its application and using it in their major fields. Therefore, instead of taking literature courses, student may benefit more from taking courses where methodologies are easily transferrable and can thus be utilized in other fields. This alternative policy is more focused and thereby more efficient.

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