Youths, Reading Habits, Aesthetic Literature and Moral Development

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  • Khin Maung Oo
  • Nowadays, there is a place attracting most of us. This place is none other than our TV sets with numerous channels broadcasting foreign movies. Being language illiterates, we can enjoy the movies through Myanmar subtitles. When the time comes, we automatically seat ourselves before our televisions. TV audiences outnumber literature readers.
    There are many reasons for today’s youths to be less interested in Myanmar literature. They already have easy access to the social networks such as Facebook and other interesting sources of knowledge on the WWW (World Wide Web). They can entertain themselves spending their time playing on-line games, chatting with friends, or delving into different subjects on various websites for their self-development. In fact, youths are very astute. With each passing day, their knowledge horizon increases, but they begin to neglect reading Myanmar literary works. Here I do not mean to say that they have turned away from books altogether. Though being more interested in informative and educative pieces of writing, they still enjoy reading amusing stories. Very often, I find some boys and girls laughing aloud, while reading books and watching movies. This shows that they have not lost their sense of humor or their feelings.
    Making youths read more books is really not a very easy task. The Government or any institution alone cannot perform this duty, without public co-operation. In academic education, reading Myanmar tales, stories, poems and novels—classics and modern—should be compulsory and these should be included in the syllabus. School authorities in collaboration with Parents and Teachers Associations need to make students take part in debates, literary talks and poem-recitation contests with famous writers and special guests invited to supervise and observe. School wall-chart magazines as well can help grow seeds of reading and writing in students. Awarding prizes to outstanding Myanmar language enthusiasts can also encourage their hobbies. This is not a day-dream. There used to be such activities in our schools when we were young. I wish we could bring such practices back to life in our schools nationwide. Nowadays students are vying for scoring high marks to be admitted to their favorite professional institutes and colleges. Hence high school students and their parents may take no interest to participate in those movements, presently.
    It is heartening for us to see some media, institutions and interested persons take an active part in launching activities for the progress of our Myanmar language. Simultaneously, it is essential for the government to give necessary assistance and encouragement to the above-said organizations.
    Books can educate us what to do and what not to do in our daily lives and guide the ones who go astray to choose the right path. They can tame the cruel to become kind to others.
    Also, books can guide morally corrupt men to become respected citizens in our society. Why are we saying repeatedly to read Myanmar aesthetic literature today? This is because Myanmar youths seem to be losing sight of Myanmar culture and traditions and their knowledge of Myanmar vocabulary is growing weaker with each passing day.
    For our youths to savor our Myanmar literature, it will be of great benefit to disseminate our literary works through the Net as soon as possible. Otherwise, a new type of literature would replace our valuable cultural heritage before we recognized it. This does not mean that we do not accept the new.
    We could take moral lessons from books throughout our lives. From the literary works we read, we learnt to love heroes and men of power, and simultaneously to hate villains and mischievous people. Biographies and auto-biographies inspired us to emulate them. Detective stories taught us how to reason and provided us with different lines of reasoning. And it taught us that crime does not pay. What was conceived in our minds was that violation of the law would lead us to being punished for sure. Most parents did not encourage their children to read love stories, regarding these as forbidden literature. But reading this kind of book gave us tender feelings. It is just a matter of time before the human race becomes extinct if we are devoid of love.
    Literary experts, writers, entrepreneurs who have the spirit of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), non-governmental organizations, academicians, teachers and all interested persons should actively take part in launching a well-planned campaign for sustainable progress of our Myanmar language and literature under the leadership of the Union government.
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