Originally Posted by Elfwreck
It is, and a shared sense of culture is important.
However, "classic literature" often means "the literature of wealthy straight white men"... insisting that everyone have a good foundation in those books guarantees that the current status quo has strong hooks in every community.
Part of changing the culture of the past--which, for all its value, had a lot of sexism, racism, and other problems--is finding the works of art and literature that *don't* reflect those values, and teaching them as equally worthy. Which usually means, "find more recent works," because a hundred years ago or more, getting published was much harder for anyone not at the top of the status-heap.
Oscar Wilde can't have been the only brilliant gay man of his era... but he may have been the only one who got widely published.
Often, minority authors' works are sidelined into "minority studies" because they "don't reflect the mainstream experience"--which is shaped by those works that are pushed at everyone. It's an elegant vicious circle, and the only way out of it is to decide that it's okay to drop the need for shared cultural tropes in favor of diversity.
To me this is brilliant. Now take this, and think of what literature has really been so popular around the world that it has it's own culture? Several come to mind and it is telling about our society as a whole. A century into our future and they will comment on that our society was mostly reading books written for children or teens. Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games were and still are defining a generation of young people.