I work with high school students: I'm the debate coach at the school in my town．I've been doing this for quite a while, and one of the benefits is getting to be a fly on the wall in the lives of teens, learning things I might otherwise miss．Sometimes I would prefer to miss these things--for instance, teens have dreadful taste in movies as a general rule, combined with an innate drive to repeat everything they've seen in those dreadful movies to one another ad infinitum, to apparently riotous effect among themselves and mindnumbing desperation within yours truly--but just as often these things are very informative．Needless to say,students talk a lot about their lives as students．As a book person myself, I'm especially intrigued when they talk about their student life vis-a-vis books．From the sound of it, it's mostly pretty bleak.
I think back to a couple of teachers who inspired me when I was their age．Those teachers didn't make me write endless papers explaining the symbolism of this or that, for one thing．The vast majority of writers are mostly telling stories and whatever so-called symbolism they toss onto the page is probably accidental; if they are deliberately engaging in some sort of deep symbolism, the result is usually dull．Imagery can be evocative, but how much can you say about it? The images evoked by the names Dickens chose for his characters, for instance, like Murdstone or Pip or Gradgrind, do their job instantaneously．What more do we need to say? I pity the poor student trying to write a "theme" on this．And I thank the teachers who inspired me for not expecting such writing．My inspirations simply were so excited about what a name like Murdstone could do, that just watching their eyes light up when they mentioned it was enough for me．These inspirations had maintained their own enthusiasm for the art of literature, and they taught enthusiasm, which is much better a lesson than teaching something like, "What is the Theme of Moby-Dick?" I don't think even Melville could figure out the theme of Moby-Dick, if you want my opinion．That's one of the book's great appeals.
Paula Marantz Cohen has uncovered for The American Scholar an article written by Orson Welles with his former English headmaster entitled On the Teaching of Shakespeare and Other Great Literature．It raises some questions about why the teaching of literature has become rather dull: "The authors note that while American high school students are exposed to about three Shakespeare plays and a smattering of other great works of literature, they rarely develop a real appreciation for the works and almost never read them again later in life．The question is why..．It is the result, they say, of the ascendancy of science, which has turned the study of literature into a scientific endeavor．"
In other words, we look at literature through the lens of objective analysis rather than subjective, which is fine for the study of any art sooner or later, but if we simply want to love that art? The subjective will always come first.