Last semester, I asked students in a professional program to read fiction as part of an experiment. I wanted to see if fiction would prompt discussions relevant to leadership/management in new or different ways than when we read more traditional reading assignments–like a textbook directly related to the topic.
The results were fascinating and heartening. It turns out that when smart people read and discuss fiction together, the conversations are rich, nuanced, thoughtful, and generous. The students had no trouble applying what they read to contexts beyond the page.
If you are a reader of fiction, file this under duh. We’ve always known what wonderful things fiction can do for us.
If you want to read more about fiction in business/communication classes, I just co-wrote an article for Harvard Business Publishing Inspiring Minds.
2 thoughts on “The Business of Reading”
Congratulations for the experiment, it was a bold idea that seems to have had so much success with your students! I’ve just read the article and I can relate so much with the conclusions of your students.
I am working in the field of management consultancy (after studying BSc Computer Science and MSc Management of Technology) and, despite being an avid fiction reader, I am still fascinated by how much I can personally learn from stories. Ethics topics, discrimination and racism, inequality – these are topics that are so present in everyday life that we might not even notice them. But when you read the story of someone else and you start discussing it … it’s like you start to see more clear.
Congratulations once again!!
Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate your comment about beginning to see more clearly. That’s exactly what it felt like for students and for me–our eyes were just opened wider.
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