Recently I came across some findings about reading that add to the longstanding agreement that reading and the encompassing academic discipline of English are a very important aspects of schooling both for success and for enrichment. Even if these findings are "old hat" to teachers of English, they may still draw a, "Impressive!", from those among us who don't keep up with life inside the "English" world.
The first item is this article which has been in many newspapers recently. The gist is that reading novels produces significant and measurable changes in the brain. www.medicalnewstoday.com
The second finding comes from analyzing over forty studies and surveys done by different departments, agencies and commissions of the federal government. The analysis was done by The National Endowment For The Arts under direction of Dana Gioia when he was its chairman. As would be expected, the results demonstrated a strong correlation between regular reading on the one hand and, on the other hand, forms of success such as academic and financial ones. What was surprising was that whether or not a person read literature was a more powerful indicator than any other in the surveys of whether he exercised, engaged in sports, was active in civil affairs, voted, did volunteer work and more generally was active in life outside of the house. Dana Gioia explains how he developed these results in this video, www.youtube.com , from 5:54 to 15:39.
The third finding comes from the graduate department of the business school at Carnegie-Mellon University. The department wanted to find out which undergraduate majors had the highest average rate of success in the graduate business program A study was designed to answer their question and the results showed that students who majored in English achieved the best outcomes. The department decided that this conclusion must be wrong and so redesigned the study, but got the same answer. The department then put the results "in a drawer" so to speak. The graduate department probably wanted undergraduates to major in business in order to keep the department's professors fully employed. Dana Gioia discusses these results in the same video from 18:11 to 20:44.
Off to the diner (library? ) for some english dish delish,