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How the Language Really Works:
The Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing
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Restatement: Reading What a Text Says

Reading what a text says is more notable for what it does not include than for what it does.

Reading what a text says is concerned with basic comprehension, with simply following the thought of a discussion. We focus on understanding each sentence, sentence by sentence, and on following the thought from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph. There is no attempt to assess the nature of the discussion and no concern for an overall motive or intent. Reading what a text says is involved with rote learning.

Restatement generally takes the form of a summary, paraphrase, or précis. Restatements should avoid the same language as much as possible to avoid plagiarism and to show understanding. Reading what a text says is common under a variety of circumstances:

  • when learning the definitions and concepts of a new discipline,
  • when there is agreement on the facts of a situation and their interpretation,
  • when a text is taken to offer a complete and objective presentation, or
  • when the word of a specific author or source is accepted as authoritative.
Readers simply accept what a text states.

When first studying any academic topic, your initial goal will be to understand what others have discovered before you. Introductory courses ask students to learn terms, concepts, and data of the particular area of study. You are expected to use your imagination and your critical faculties to understand the concepts; you are not expected to question the assertions. The goal is to learn the commonly accepted paradigm for discussing topics in that field of study.

Finally, remember that repeating the assertions of a text need not suggest a denial of critical thinking, merely a postponing of, or preparation for, critical thinking.


Related Topics
Three Ways to Read and Discuss Texts
Description: Describing What a Text Does
Interpretation: Analyzing What a Text Means

Reading / Writing
Critical Reading
Inference
Choices
Ways to Read
Grammar

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Dan Kurland's    www.criticalreading.com