Reading Is Fundamental

I enjoyed the Czar’s post on reading but I figured I’d chime in with a missing element:  there are generally three “modes” of reading – for instruction, for education and for enjoyment.  The problem is that each require a different approach and these aren’t differentiated in schools.  In fact, studies have shown that with more formal education, our ability to read for instruction, in general, diminishes.

Reading for Instruction – imagine you have to unbox and set up your new Blu-Ray DVD player.  Reading the manual (insert joke about “real men don’t read manuals”, “RTFM”, etc) is reading for instruction.  Do step 1. Read step 2.  Do step 2.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Kids are great at this (when focused) as they’ve been trained to follow directions – they will read an instruction and then do it.  Adults tend to either read the entire manual and then can’t remember what step 1 is, then they get frustrated and toss the device out the window cursing or they ignore the manual and try battling thru it.

Reading for enjoyment – simply put this is faster reading for nothing else that distraction.  Generally one will skim and get the general sense of the paragraph or dialog.  The reader isn’t getting every nuance and the reader’s imagination fills in the gaps almost seamlessly.

Reading for education – largely schoolwork (minus some of the reading for Literature classes).  This is in depth reading for serious comprehension.  There are different approaches to this mode – one can go in with certain keywords to help drill in on the specifics, one can break down the content in an outline or other note format or one can build up elements into larger concepts.  It varies by the reader and possibly the subject and nature of the reason for the reading assignment.

When was the last time any teacher taught you how to do one type versus the other?  Ever remember being taught how to read for instruction?  Is that VCR still blinking 12:00 in your basement?

The education system in the country has done little to nothing to fundamentally change how subjects are taught in school.  About the best thing I’ve seen recently (replicant GorT 1, a high school freshman this fall) is the change of the typical teaching order of the sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) to one based on the interdependencies of the sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology).  The previous order was alphabetical.  Seriously.  It would be even more interesting if these were broken up as there are more interdependencies that could cycle back around.

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About GorT

GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.