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Reading and Writing Ideas As Well As Words

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How the Language Really Works:
The Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing
Reading / Writing
Critical Reading
Inference
Choices
Ways to Read
Grammar

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Elementary School: Learning to Read

High School: Reading Facts, Opinions, and Beliefs

College: Reading for Underlying Meaning

The Need to Improve Your Reading

Elementary School: Learning to Read

We learn to read as children. As the years go by, we read simple material effortlessly, almost unconsciously.  We seemingly strip meaning from the page, sentence by sentence, like tearing tape from a box. We don't necessarily know how we read, we just do it—as you are doing now!  

As we go on in school, reading becomes more difficult. The vocabulary of discussion becomes increasingly technical.  Sentence structure is increasingly complex. Most people find reading no longer effortless.  Others continue to read effortlessly, but fail to understand as much as they would like to—or are expected to.

High School: Reading Facts, Opinions, and Beliefs

Early in our schooling, most of us think published texts offer an accurate view of the world,—"the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." To know about a topic, we have only to read a single source. Studying usually means memorizing.

Sometime around high school, our view of reading changes. Questions no longer have single, or even simple, answers. Authors draw finer and finer distinctions.    We must recognize diverse perspectives, and distinguish between, social, political, and economic factors, or between personal, social, and institutional concerns. Whereas once we discussed American Indians as a group, we now recognize the diversity of the cultures and the individual concerns of the various tribes. Studying now involves a deeper understanding. We must recognize and appreciate alternative understandings and perspectives. We must distinguish between fact, opinion, and belief.

College: Reading for Underlying Meaning

As we go on to college, teachers no longer ask us to “read and remember.”  Now they ask:
  • How does the author view the topic?
  • What is the underlying thesis of the book? 
The goal of reading is not simply to see what is said, but to understand the bias, assumptions, and perspectives underlying the discussion.  We no longer see the world through a text; we now see how the world is portrayed by a text. Reading comes to mean understanding one writer’s portrayal of reality.

Many students make the transition from reading for facts to reading to interpret quite smoothly. Others can benefit from specific instruction. In either case, the more you know about how ideas are conveyed by the written word, the more you can apply those principles when the going gets tough. This site is dedicated to that effort.


Related Topics
The Need to Improve Your Writing
What Is Critical Reading?


Reading / Writing
Critical Reading
Inference
Choices
Ways to Read
Grammar


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Dan Kurland's    www.criticalreading.com