Wednesday, June 8, 2011

While we're talking about reading . . .

How would you describe yourself as a reader? Are you accomplished? Inquisitive? Efficient? Engaged? Sophomoric?

Sophomore; a Greek word for the mixture of learning and folly; we might apply it to those who are bookish but poorly read.

I picked up a copy of "How to Read a Book" today at the library.

I haven't read more than a few of the 400 pages, but I have been introduced to four new vocabulary words, and a few concepts to ponder as I am teaching my oldest son to read. Relevant as I am going back to school soon, myself!

Reading can have multiple goals; we can read for information, we can read for understanding, or we can read for entertainment. Reading as a means of learning should be considered as an effort, not a passive reception of information. If our goal in teaching our children is to have them understand, then we must teach them how to engage with us as teachers as well as with the written word.

If I have a question while reading for understanding then I must answer it myself. This means I need to learn to engage with the text on a level above decoding the symbols into words and sentences, or even beyond picking out facts.  To achieve a high level of engagement, I must move beyond analysis into "syntopical" readng; this is more or less the ability to read more than one book on a subject at a time and synthesize and evaluate a subject.

In thinking about different levels of reading, it seems this goes well with the trivium of a classical education: grammar, logic, rhetoric. They all play a part in developing your worldview.

In the end, my goal is simple. I want my children to be able to form an opinion of their own. Who needs to spit out pre-packaged sound bites at the appropriate intervals? I need thinkers! Engaged citizens who can use the intellect God has given them for the good of all around them.

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