Walt Disney once said, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” Is this true? Can an individual learn better from reading a fictional story more than reading a nonfictional story? Can an individual learn better from reading a nonfictional story more than a fictional story? This is a hot topic for educators heading toward the common core. David Coleman, the principal of the College Board and selected member to focus on the rigor of curricula on which College Board exams are based, has weighed in favor of nonfiction. He believes that nonfiction is more important than fiction when it comes down to comprehending information needed for the ‘real world’. So, at the beginning of 2014 many schools will undergo a change.
Forty five states have already agreed to Coleman’s plan that demands high school students to read sixty to seventy percent nonfiction and only thirty to forty percent fiction. Whether fiction or nonfiction, a student should be entitled to the way they get their emotional enjoyment from reading. Fiction is just as important, if not more important, than nonfiction. It can enhance a person’s understanding of the world, give a student an abundance of knowledge that will remain useful, and further the growth of everyday living.
Fiction can enhance a person’s understanding of the world in many ways. In the words of Ashley Lauren, a high school English teacher, “I want my students to see literature as a way to broaden minds and the understanding of the world. It can give them a perspective of a problem that they may not have encountered in their young lives. It can open up new worlds and new ways of thinking and understanding.” When reading a story that resembles one’s life and situations, advice can be laced into the words of the story. From this, students can receive the emotional help and use it as a guide for life situations. With fiction, students get the chance to be versatile due to the different personalities that fictional characters are made up of, to relate to or add to their understanding of the world. Those different persona’s fictional characters are made up of can benefit students for future reference. The world is made up of so much creativity that gets inspired from many fictional books and movies.
Probably more than it gets inspired from nonfiction. Fiction books can help a student develop an abundance of skill that will remain useful for many years. Fiction is a source of extreme excitement and the entertainment one needs to hold the interest of the reader. Memories of tragic and exciting things that occur in life often stay engraved in the brain. The same can go for fiction. The hidden messages, lessons, advice, and excitement taken from fictional books stick with young people for a long period of time because of the emotional enjoyment and attachment the brain captured from it. Another English teacher who had a strong opinion about this discussion was Diana Senechal. She states “Employers may not require knowledge of fiction, poetry, and drama but that does not make it unimportant.
It stays in the mind, sometimes throughout a person’s life.” Why do you think this is true? “During new or entertaining experiences, neurotransmitters in the brain release dopamine, a chemical that gives us the sensation of joy and excitement (Discovery Channel)”. Your memory gets affected by the dopamine and connects to the long-term memory your brain contains. Not saying that there are no exciting nonfictional texts in the world, but you probably won’t find as much excitement in them as you can with fiction. Reason is because most nonfictional text state facts and sometimes the facts can be repetitive which can trigger a form of boredom to the mind. Unlike nonfiction, fiction can get creative and exaggerate truths of a plot. You can’t always predict what you will read with fiction, but with nonfiction, you know it won’t be crazy or over the top which can be boring.
Believe it or not, fiction does further the growth of everyday living. There is so much creativity in the world today. From cell phones that have conversations with you, to inventors striving to make flying cars. How do people come up with this stuff? Remember the fiction movie Star Wars? The character C3PO was a robot who spoke and acted like a human. C3PO gave advice and answers to people which resembles how cell phones interact with humans today.
That same cell phone invention could’ve started from a normal person watching Star Wars and getting the idea. The same goes for the flying cars. Where did these inventors get that idea? Remember the popular 1960’s fiction cartoon, The Jetsons? This family road around in flying cars as a part of their daily routine. An inventor watching that might have been inspired to make it happen in real life, which is what inventors are striving for now. Both of these movies, and many others that are fiction, display an extreme source of creativity that is affecting us today. The technology that is making such a big difference in our lives is being thought of with the help of fiction movies, books, and etc. and is the growth we experience every day.
Many people argue that nonfiction is more important than fiction because it gives the information needed to survive and become familiar in the “real world” of today or “Students don’t know enough about the real world because they don’t read nonfiction and they can’t read nonfiction because they don’t know enough about the real world (Mathews).” The truth is that fiction plays a big part in the world we live in today. All the creative inventions and such gets backed up by fiction. Nonfiction is important in some ways, but with fiction giving so much behind its messages and words, it overpowers that. Fiction can relate to an abundance of things that can be useful in real life that nonfiction can’t.
In conclusion, fiction can enhance a person’s understanding of the world, give a student an abundance of knowledge that can remain useful, and further the growth of everyday living. Fiction is not as useless and unnecessary as David Coleman and other fans of nonfiction try to make it out to be. Everyone is not the same and trying to take over how someone gets their knowledge because of own beliefs and feelings isn’t right at all. As stated before, everyone has an opinion and it’s not anyone’s to overrule.