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Reading Trends among Students of Indian Studies Department at the

University of Malaya: A Study

(Rose Mary Doraisamy, Subang Utama Higher Secondary School,

Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia )

Prologue

Reading is a key component in the art of teaching and learning. At the same time

reading is also a tool or instrument for developing a human's thinking ability. John Arul Phillip

quotes when looking at the thinking ability of man as follows,

“Over the decades a plethora of terms have been proposed to describe different types of

thinking like reflective thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking, lateral thinking, analytical

thinking, logical thinking, deductive thinking, analogical thinking to name a few” (page 10)

It is not deniable that reading is very vital to develop a variety of thinking skills. With the aim of

developing such thinking skills, the teachers will carry out various teaching approaches and

activities in the classroom. These are referred to as the responsive reading approach and the

conceptual approach (NS Rajendran, page 31).

While the subject matter is related to thinking capabilities, it is possible to conduct a

series of studies focused on the study trends among the university students. Furthermore, this

is a primary initiative in this field, and only the primary data is provided and analyzed. There is

a possibility to take a detailed study of the subjective impacts in further studies.

The purpose of the study

Students studying in the field of Indian Studies in the University of Malaya are pursuing

different disciplines. The bibliographies are highly recommended by the lecturers to read the

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books related to the lessons for their studies. These books include poetry, short stories and

novels associated with modern literature. This article focuses on student readings in the

university as well as the pursuit of a series of regular reading on modern literature and attempts

to identify the reading trends among the students in general. Furthermore, identifying the

trends in this study is the only major aim of the study, and the study of the causes of these

developments has not been studied yet. In fact, it is possible to do it as a separate study.

Premier data

The main data for the study are the details of the borrowing of books by the students

from the University of Malaya Indian Studies Library. Students' reading trends have been

identified by the study of the frequency and the time frame of borrowing of each book related

to their studies. Furthermore, the Head of the Indian Studies Library, Komodhi Dhanaraj has

been interviewed to further strengthen the primary data on the reading trends of students.

Methodology

The approach to analyzing the data obtained is used as the primary methodology in

this study. There is also an attempt to use the primary data to explain further the reading trends

among the students in an explanatory approach.

Department of Indian Studies Teaching Courses

There are close links between the university library and the lessons taught in the field

of Indian studies pedagogy. In fact, the books are purchased based on the courses offered in

each semester (interview, Komodhi Dhanaraj). The following are the courses offered in the

field of the Indian Studies.

A). Tamil Grammar

B). Sangam Literature

C). Citrilakkiyam

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D). Epic

E). Bhakti Literature

F). Astrology

G). Modern Literature

These courses are offered every semester. But the contents and books taught in these courses

will be different. And so the books that the students should read and refer are different for each

semester. The main purpose of such a procedure is to ensure the students learn the depth of

the Tamil literature in six semesters.

Details of Borrowing of books in the Indian Studies Library

A total of 6750 books have been borrowed from the Library of Indian Studies by the

students in the past three years. This information is compiled by the library's computer division.

The analysis of the data are reflective of the categories of books borrowed and student reading

trends. At the same time, these borrowed books in the field of study were merely bibliographies

and textbooks recommended by the lecturers to enhance and deepen their knowledge. While

analyzing the details of the borrowed books, students' reading trends can be found in a variety

of components. The details of books borrowed are reflective of the general titles refereed. The

subsequent descriptions of the subdivisions are as follows,

Titles of borrowed books and purpose

Call Number Title of Books Purpose of Borrowing Frequency

WT1 Dictionary Reference Normal

WT2 Temple Manuscripts Reference Nil

WT3 History of Language Lessons and reference Normal

WT7 Journalism Lessons and reference Normal

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WTA Linguistic Lessons and reference Normal

WTB Art of Words Lessons and reference Nil

WTC Tamil Language Lessons and reference Normal

Learning

WTD Language Research Lessons and reference Normal

WTM Comparative grammar Lessons and reference Normal

WTN Linguistic articles Lessons and reference Normal

WTN pav Nanool, Bavananthi Lessons and reference Normal

WTN tho Tholkappiyam Lessons and reference Normal

WTNA Akam Literature Lessons and reference Normal

WTNB Puram Literature Lessons and reference Normal

WTNC Yapparunkalakkarikai Lessons and reference Normal

WTO Grammar Illustration Lessons and reference Normal

WTP Teaching and Learning Lessons and reference Normal

WTR School textbooks Reference Normal

WTN Writing skills Reference Normal

WTZ Manuscripts Reference Nil

WU1 Dictionaries Reference Normal

WU2 Research Methodology Reference Normal

WU4 History of Literature Lessons and reference Normal

WU5 Sangam Publications Reference Normal

WU6 Collections of Journals Reference Normal

WU7 Collection of texts Reference Normal

WU8 Analysis of texts Reference Normal

WU9 Collection of Ancient Reference Nil

Literature

WU10 Sangam Literature Lessons and reference Normal

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WU10A Ettutokai Lessons and reference Normal

WU18A Pattupattu Lessons and reference Normal

WU28A Patinenkilkanaku Lessons and reference Normal

WU47 Epics Lessons and reference Normal

WU50 Ramayana Lessons and reference Nil

WU51 Mahabharata Lessons and reference Nil

WU58 Hindu Religion Lessons and reference Normal

WU64 Citrilakiyam Lessons and reference Normal

WU69 Folk literature Lessons and reference Normal

WU76 History of Literature Lessons and reference Normal

WU77 Dalit literature Lessons and reference Normal

WU78 Poems Lessons and reference More

WU80 Historical novels Lessons and reference Nil

WU81 Detective novels Lessons and reference Nil

WU82 Novels Lessons and reference Normal

WU83 Malaysian Novels Lessons and reference More

WU84 Short Stories Lessons and reference More

WU85 Essays Reference Normal

WU86 Drama Reference Nil

WU87 General Literatures Reference Less

WU88 Autobiography Reference Less

WU89 Humorous stories Reference Less

WU90 Travel literature Reference Nil

WU92 Translated Novels Reference Less

WUAK Science Reference Nil

WUAAW Osho Reference More

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WUIAB Motivational books Reference More

WUIOT Astrology Lessons and reference More

WUQWA Feminism Lessons and reference Normal

WUVC Cinema Lessons and reference Normal

The analysis of the borrowed books shows that the frequency of borrowing is normal because

they are borrowed as textbooks and reference related to their lessons in each semester. For

example, the books on Grammar, Sangam literature, Ettuthokai, Pattupahtu, Literature and

Epics are related to the lessons taught in that semester. The findings too show that the

borrowing period corresponds to the papers offered by the Indian Studies department in that

semester. Therefore, it is clear that these books are borrowed only for the purpose of the text

used in the courses.

The findings also gives a clear message that there are books that have not been

borrowed so far. It is evident that students learn only the essentials and read the related texts.

At the same time, a few topics that are part of the lesson, the frequency of borrowing by the

students are more. They are poems, short stories, novels, and books on astrology. Some texts

are used only for reference purpose. This includes topics such as grammar, criticism, Dalit

literature, feminism and cinema. Students read these texts to prepare and complete their

assignments and mini thesis for their graduation. At the same time, some of the texts on certain

topics are not known to be borrowed. These are books on the sciences, analysis and

manuscripts and this justifies that it will be borrowed only by students who have prior

knowledge on these aspects. The findings also shows that the availability of books, such as

Ramayana, Mahabharata and travel literature which shows a frequency of Nil reflects the

possibility that the cultural continuity is facing an end.

Modern literary texts such as poetry, short stories and novels have been always

borrowed and are widespread reading books. But the key element to be noted is that these

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books are a form of literary genre or just a leisure reading that promotes popular culture. The

reason is that a strong literary reading will lead to a strong literary development of a country.

On the contrary, leisure reading mesmerizes readers away from the divergent ideas. While

studying the titles of borrowed books, students read more lesson based texts as the only

literary genre. For instance, the works of Ambai, Sivakami, Bamma, the poems of Abdul

Rahman, Inquilab, Cirppi Kasiananthan and others which are the main texts for the respective

semesters. It is noticeable that these books have also been borrowed for a longer period of

time not only as texts but also as continuous reading by limited number of students who have

interest in literary fields.

But the short stories and novels of the popular literature which are written by writers

such ase Sujata, Sivasankari, Rajendra Kumar, Rajesh Kumar, Pattukottai Prabhakar,

Balakumaran, Priya Raman, Suba, Devibala, Ramani Chandran and others are well received

among the students. Such readings are just for entertainment and leisure. On the contrary,

these types of literature will not help bring literary growth to another level or platform. Also,

when we examine or review the reading of poetry, we can find some kind of cinematic glamor

in this poems which are written by Vairamuthu, Mehta, Snehan, P. Vijay, Parthiban, Kapilan

and others which capture the more readable in poetry. It is absolutely true that the depth of the

poetry in the form of poetic literary cannot be seen in this type of leisure writing.

Furthermore, the novels written in the sixties and seventies by well-known novelists

such as Na. Parthasarathy, Nila Padmanabhan, M. Varatharasan, Akilan, Jayakanthan and

others are read only when chosen as texts and it shows that these books are not borrowed for

a longer period by the students and are not kept as readable materials by them. It is sad to

note that there is a lack of knowledge in the continuity of reading of books from early period to

know the growth of novel literature in Tamil.

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Conclusions

When analyzing the borrowing trends of the Indian Studies Library, it is noticeable that

the students are able to read only the books related to their studies or their courses offered in

the semester. Only limited number of students do continue reading the text based on their

courses piror to their respective semesters. It is clear that this library is doing well with the

status of nearly 3500 books being borrowed in one year. But it is necessary to change the

reading trends among the students in this rich literary environment whereby the serious

literature text must overcome the trends of reading popular or leisure literature. Furthermore,

Sangam literature reading is essential to the continuity of our artistic cultural elements. Our

values are superior and therefore they need to be reflected in the literature reading if they are

to continue to benefit the future community. At the same time, such a reading habit must be

inculcated in the mind of studenrs. Therefore, in today's world without borders, it is necessary

to increase the Tamil readership with rich literary works.

References

(1). Philips, J.A. 1996. Developing Critical & Creative Thinking in children, Selangor: Lingua

publication sdn Bhd.

(2). Mr.N. S. Rajendran, 2001, Thinking in Tamil Learning, 5th World Tamil Conference

Conference, Singapore.

(3). Computer Unit, University of Malaya University, Kuala Lumpur.

(4). Interview –Komodhi Dhanaraj, Chief Librarian, Library of the Department of Indian studies,

University of Malaya University, Kuala Lumpur.