Does Reading Literature Prepare Students for the "real world"?

This article from NCTE comes at a good time for me, since I’m scheduled to teach a “Writing about Literature” class in the fall. It’s a PDF (booo!).

Of all types of writing, writing about literature may seem the
least practical. Who apart from scholars and English majors
analyzes poetry after the age of 18? Even book reviewers don’t
write the kinds of essays commonly assigned in school. Why do teachers
devote so much effort to developing an arcane skill? Because writing
about literature disciplines the mind. It challenges students to look
closely into what they read and express clearly and powerfully what
they find there. Meeting this challenge entails more than identifying
correct answers to teachers’ questions. It requires deep reading and
analytical thinking–skills that will serve students well whatever their
futures may hold. — Carol Jago (136k PDF)