A major obstacle to teaching the classics is that students may lack understanding of the role literature can play in their lives. Their comments often include, "Shakespeare is dead, and that stuff's too old," "Sophocles died over 2000 years ago!" The integration of the workplace report and newsletter writing provided relevance for studying literature because great universal themes could be explored in a current and acceptable format. Specifically, students enjoyed experimenting with graphics, fonts, or borders, were excited about their final projects, and expressed pride that their products looked professional.
These workplace literacy/literature activities also helped students grow in their reading, writing and interpersonal skills. Students had to edit and revise their projects several times; they had to analyze a situation and write a succinct and grammatically correct analysis. In the group projects, students had opportunities to discover and develop talents. They were observed dividing assignments among the "best writer," "computer whiz," or "best proofreader" in their group.
Literature and workplace literacy can be integrated in adult programs. The examples provided here show that exploring classic literature can be an important component for literacy instruction of tech-prep and low achieving high school students, as well as those who are college-bound. Further, we believe that integrating literature into adult programs will help older learners continue to strive for individual growth and understanding in addition to preparing to meet the changing demands of the workforce in a global economy.
Response Box 3: Could you adapt these activities to the literature your adult student would read or movies they would see?
What are your views on the skills, abilities, and attitudes your students would need to approach the activities described in this article?