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Literature Can Often Help Us Feel Connected to the Wider World

Jane Haskins
Jane Haskins (1 post) Head of English View Profile

One of the most important aspects of teaching literature is to explore the importance of the shared experience. Literature can often help us feel connected to the wider world and understand that we are not alone in our feelings. This certainly seems more important now than ever.

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Our Year 8 students have been working on a project to explore this idea and share with the school community (via assembly) how literature and the arts can help us recognize our own feelings in the characters we read about, or the music we listen to, or the movies we watch or the art we observe. In addition, to see how support is vital in helping ourselves get through difficult times, or to offer support to others. Literature and the arts can offer inspiration and empowerment, which ultimately can help build resilience to the challenges we face and sustain our general well-being.

We began this process by thinking about various forms of art that they have found inspirational. They worked in groups to plan a presentation or performance that encapsulates their ideas.

Here is a snapshot of the students’ ideas during our planning sessions:

Vika, Vicky, Happy, Izzy, Violeta, Zsa Zsa: ‘We have reflected on how everyone needs a boost sometimes from other people’s voices…we find literature and the arts help us express ourselves and we find inspiration in song, movies, dancing and in books. We want to show the school community our ideas via acting like the empowering people we have read about – for example, Michelle Obama and the character Katniss Everdeen.’

Lars, Paolo, Aoshen, Allen, Alex, Marco, Emi, Tayen: ‘We have thought about how important it is to either ask for help or to give support to others. We wondered about films we have seen and what if the main character had asked for support at a specific moment, how different their life would be, without so much trauma and problems. We have used our drama skills to reflect on this idea and explore the consequences.’

Antonina, Daxiang, Kelly: ‘We have focused on song lyrics that have inspired us, especially with the idea that everyone is unique, equal, and valued. We have used the form of visual arts to represent our findings.

Yuaho, Theo, Andreas and Aiden: ‘We have reflected separately on how characters from books and films can inspire us to not give up. There are always struggles in life, and seeing the characters cope and battle on, helps us gain resilience and be inspired. We will outline the characteristics of these characters in our presentation.’  

Nina, Claire, Cindy: ‘We have decided to use song lyrics that we think are inspiring and empowering to help others see how sharing an experience can help with your own feelings. We are going to sing and play instruments to express these ideas.’

Vivien, Sophia, Cordia: ‘We focused on the form of Anime and how the storylines have helped us recognize our own feelings at times, and to especially focus on our own internal strength. We have created our own video about Anime to help others understand how they could possibly overcome their fears or worries.’

Overall, the students have explored their own perception of how literature and the arts can help build resilience and maintain their well-being. It is a work in progress, but we hope this concept will continue and inspire others in our school community.