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Pangasinan State University


Urdaneta City, Pangasinan


Course Title: Principles and Practices of Literature Teaching

Issues and Concern in Teaching Philippine Literature in the 21st Century

I. Introduction
The 21st century is upon us. The role of educational institutions to prepare students for the types of skills
needed for them to live and work in the 21st century has never been more crucial and there is a strong sense
of urgency to equip our students for “jobs and technologies that don’t yet exist…in order to solve problems
that we don’t even know are problems yet” (Riley, as quoted in Crutcher, 2011). Educators everywhere are
facing this challenge and the solution appears to be to work in partnerships with businesses and policymakers.
The skills that will form the basis for 21st century curricula emphasize communication, collaboration,
problem solving, citizenship, and digital fluency. 21st century skills have been internationally categorized
into four broad categories: ways of thinking, ways of working, tools for working and skills for living in the
world. The identified two major skills areas, collaborative problem-solving and ICT literacy.
With 21st century skills being the main driving force behind economic, and ultimately education policies,
the question then is where does Literature, or for that matter the Humanities, fit in?
II. Discussion
The humanities, in general, include the study of languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion as well
as visual and performing arts. It is “the study of our cultural pasts, the experiences and the ideas and the art
works from those pasts” (Bassett, 2008, p. 10). Although, according to Bassett, the change in humanities
education towards “becoming more inclusive…benefiting more from technology…more global in
perspective” (p. 8), and the belief that “knowledge and understanding of history, literature, and art can enrich
our lives” (p. 11) speaks well for humanities education, its future remains uncertain.
One of the challenges is to help students to relate what they have learnt in the humanities to current issues
of the 21st century and looking at them with new perspectives. This ability to “connect” what has been studied
to current “social and technological issues” (p. 17) is what is needed to ensure the future of humanities
Our country still faces an old-aged issue and concern to sustain the interest of learning literature.
Philippine literature is an important subject to the Filipinos. This is a treasure given by our ancestors; however,
today’s society Filipino youth remains adverse.
Antonio, 2015 stated that Filipinos youth ignore literature. This generation is losing their interest on their
own cultural roots because of colonial mentality. The assimilation of other culture is rapidly increasing and
spreading throughout the country.
Donoghue (2010), maintains that no one cares whether the humanities can survive the 21st century. He
contends that the humanities “simply don’t have a place in the emergent curriculum of the 21st century” (p.
5) and ponders the possibility of the humanities surviving without academic institutions.
Virgilio Almario, a national artist said in an article “Tagalog is jologs and other problems in Philippine
literature”. The mindset of Filipinos that English is better language than their vernacular is the reasons why
Philippine literature is sliding away from the Filipino. (De Guzman, 2016).
Colonial mentality negatively affects the youth’s knowledge about their literature. With no one taking
action, it might be a one-way battle.
The Youth’s lack of interest greatly affects the state of Philippine literature. It is vital to consider the
participation of youth in the matter. They are not only the audiences for literary works but they are also the
ones who have the capacity to continue the legacy of great Filipino writers.
Sadly, the colonial mentality brought by the Filipino character is consuming the youth. Because the
assimilation of other culture is rapidly spreading throughout the country, the separation of the identity to the
consciousness of being a Filipino is imminent (PANULAT, 1995).
The lack of understanding of what is a Filipino culture is very evident; the appreciation for Filipino culture
is very limited even in the academe (Abueva, 1998). This implies that colonial mentality imposes a great risk
not only to literature but also to the Filipino culture itself. Even the definition of Filipino culture is not clear.
2.1 Social Influence
The youth regards literature as a secondary need next to food, home, television, or internet. They are more
likely to get involved or interested in shows from other countries and, as said earlier, in international books.
The study of Literature focused mainly on the mastery of skills related to textual analysis and analysis of
literary devices and techniques as reflected in the aims of the Literature syllabus (Curriculum Planning and
Development Division, 2007).
Literature encourages the development of higher order thinking and creativity. Students in the high
performing schools were more receptive to Literature studies and this was reflected in their positive feedback
and points of view.
A successful literature instruction lies on analyzing the learning needs of the students and translating these
needs into outcomes that will be beneficial for the students as they prepare for continuing education or
workplace challenges.
Despite the importance placed on Literature in secondary schools, the subject had endured a very low
status compared to other Humanities subjects. The lack of emphasis on Literature and the overemphasis on
subjects such as Mathematics and Science served to highlight the fact that Literature is not important or
relevant in the future. Teacher shortage was a problem faced by the schools and the use of unqualified relief
teachers to teach the subject added to its lack of credibility and status. Literature was also perceived as a
difficult subject due to its subjective nature and lack of tangible facts. All these factors have huge implications
on the process of teaching and learning.
According to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the National University of Singapore (NUS),
Literature graduates are “well equipped for a number of jobs – typical career areas of recent graduates include
journalism, television, public relations in banks and other corporations, teaching and publishing” (NUS
website, 2010). These careers, however, were not considered attractive in terms of status or financial
remunerations as indicated by most of the participants in this research.
III. Some Issues and Concerns
Curriculum makers may reconsider the selection of literary texts not only limiting it to those 21st century
writings but those with literary merits.
Djikic, Oatley, and Carland determined whether genre or artistic merit caused variability in the perceived
personality traits of an individual whenever reading a literary piece. They found out that individuals’ perceived
artistic merit had an effect to opening readers’ personality to variability.
Khatib and Derakhshan noted that studying literature promotes critical thinking enhancement among
language learners as it brings about changes in the attitudes of the learners allowing them to reflect on their
lives, learning, and language. This may also provide them opportunity to question, interpret, connect, and
explore issues depicted in the literary texts.
Similarly, Al-Khader [8] emphasized that studying literature provides students opportunity for personality
development and cultural adaptation.
Studying literary texts which are well-known for their artistic merits which are important to prepare them
for college education and workplace challenges. Students still acknowledge the importance of aesthetic
especially in the use of language in literature to decipher meaning of literary texts. They are interested on how
the overall structure of a literary selection work with unison with its content to reveal its meaning and
Aside from the content of literature instruction, it is also equally important to reconsider the methodologies
employed in teaching literature. Hwang and Embi observed that literature teachers constantly use three
activities in literature instruction.
This is parallel to the findings of Macaraig and Cabrera regarding the use of technology that allows more
students to actively think about information, make choices, and evaluate skills than the typical teacher-led
It is important that they study literary texts which deal with common personal experiences, interests, and
needs of students. They are motivated to read literary selections that can provide them opportunity to reflect
on their personal experiences, interests and needs as these literary texts bring the study of literature to a
personal level.
According to Maley, literary texts that commonly deal with events, ideas, feelings and emotions that
conform to the readers’ experience produce personal relevance. This enables students to relate their reading
experience with their previous
Duff and Maley described the motivational criterion in support of the use of literature in the language
classroom. They pointed out that this criterion refers to the adequacy of literary texts to the exploration of
students’ feelings and to the enhancement of their motivation, which is provided by authenticity and
meaningful contexts. They further discussed that literary texts helped students to stimulate their imagination,
develop their critical abilities, and increase their emotional awareness.
Work-oriented learning objectives highly relevant in making them job ready. In similar manner, Denisi
and Griffin noted that human relation skills and knowledge of cultural diversity are important in organization
and served as criteria in the recruitment and selection of employees
Collie and Slater states that choosing a book that is relevant to the life experiences, emotions, or dreams
of the learners can foster personal involvement and can establish creative relationship between the reader and
the text.
Savvidou supports this contention that analyzing the overall structure of the text leads to a deeper
exploration of the message of a literary text.
IV. Strategies and Interventions
Proclamation No. 968 Declaring the Month of April of Every Year as “National Literature Month” was
implemented last February 10, 2015. Its goals are to promote, conserve, and popularize the Nation’s historical
and cultural heritage like Philippine literature. Promotion benefits the youth to further read the nation’s
literature. To implement such law gives an adequate power for Filipino writers and literature enthusiasts to
further be motivated.
The agencies that lead for the preparation, coordination, and implementation of activities that concerns
National Literature Month are the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) and Komisyon sa
Wikang Filipino (KWF) (Proclamation No. 968 Declaring the Month of April of Every Year as “National
Literature Month”, 2015). Even if new laws are no longer developed, reinforcing the Proclamation no. 968
should be enough to promote Philippine literature to the youth and to further strengthen its presence.
The support of Filipinos, especially the government, is vital to motivate Filipino writers. Suggested by
Abueva (1998), support (especially funds) to Filipino writers and aspiring writers and other artists who
deserved to be recognized should be given substantially by the government and other private groups or
individuals. Awards, such as the infamous Palanca Awards, should also be given to those who are worthy of
such titles.
Another way of promoting Philippine literature is through the use of modernization. The use of today’s
technology is a boon to advertise Philippine literature. The mass media, for example, is often used by the
youth. Today, as most of the youth’s culture is related to mass media in two different ideas that joined together,
it is best to utilize it so that: modernization and embracing of tradition would be wielded together to capture
the Filipino essence (Lanuza, 2002). Since literature is a versatile literary marker, it is very much possible to
use media as a tool to promote Philippine literature.
V. Conclusion
Is there a place for Literature within 21st century learning? The quality of Physical, Art and Music
education would be strengthened. It still remains to be seen if Literature as a subject will continue to be
Literature remains an important means of conveying thought-provoking content. The fact that our culture
is media-saturated and our attention spans have been dramatically shortened does not lessen the importance
of teaching children not only how to read, but how to evaluate what they read. The need for communicating
has not changed, even if our tolerance level for it has.
The implications for teachers and teacher education could very well be the “reframing of the entire field
of English studies and English teacher education” (George, 2011, p. 183) as proposed by Brauer and Clark
(2008) with the inclusion of multiple contemporary text types and the “need to shift and broaden to include a
fuller range of production methods (film studies and TV production along with writing a composition) and
text media (TV, radio, film, and other nonprint media along with literature anthologies, textbooks, and other
print based text)” (Brauer and Clark, 2008, p. 309, as cited in George, 2011, p. 183)
If teachers and students cannot see its ‘place’ in teaching and learning for the 21st century, then we would
see its demise or its disintegration into other subject areas or disciplines in the very near future.

VI. References
Antonio, Keem Uarren E. (2015). Beyond Rizal: Philippine literature as a subject for inclination of youth’s
interest towards Philippine literature. (Master’s thesis) Retrieved from
Banez, Richard M. (2016). Recency or Relevance: A Quest for Pedagogical Framework in Teaching
Philippine and World Literature in Senior High School (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from
Bassett, J. (2008). The Future of Humanities Education, Or Ahab and His Humanities. Interdisciplinary
Humanities, 25 (1), 7-19.
Crutcher, R.A., (2011). Fluency Across the Boundaries: A Case for Liberal Education in the 21st Century.
American Council on Education. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from › Home › The Presidency
De Guzman, N. F. (2016) Tagalog is jologs and other problems in Philippine literature. Business World.
Retrieved May 6, 2019, from
Donoghue, F. (2010). Can the Humanities Survive the 21st Century. Chronicle of Higher Education, 57 (3),
George, M. (2011). Preparing Teachers to Teach Adolescent Literature in the 21st Century. Theory Into
Practice, 50 (3), 182-189.
Rozita, D. (2014). Literature and the 21st Century Learner. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 123
(2014) 289 – 298 Retrieved May 9, 2019, from