It’s nice to read something that really makes you question your entire method of doing things. The most recent readings that we did really made me think about what I was doing well, and what I was doing that needed more work. Actually, what they really did was make me feel kinda stupid that I wasn’t doing these kinds of things while I was reading.
Last week’s readings were about how writing has become more part of the economic workforce and how we value it more than reading these days. This week’s reading talked about how to read well, how reading and writing influence each other, and why reading is equally important as writing.
I think the things that seem to stick out the most is that the readings both allude to the idea that reading and writing go hand in hand. One influences the other and vice versa. It made me realize that all this time I was so focused on writing, that I had neglected to think about my reading skills. Because reading and writing is a continuous conversation between the writer and the reader, it would make sense that reading skills are just as important.
Usually, I write the way I think or talk. The words and tone that I use are very similar to the conversations that I share with people. I never think about what my purpose is, who would be reading it, and what message I want to communicate. There was never that kind of deep thinking. And sadly I think that it reflects in my reading skills. Haas and Flower explain that good reading is characterized as “the ability to read the text on several levels, to build multi-faceted representations.” When experienced readers read, they go beyond the text and try to connect all these difference facets of information. They take ownership of their learning and understanding. But in many cases, especially in the college context, many students are focused more on the content and are trying to gather information based on what is being said.
Personally for me, I don’t really read this way for a couple of reasons. First of all, its difficult when you’re so used to just reading for fun, or reading to gain information. It takes way too much brain power to really think about what we’re reading. And because it’s even harder to do that when readings don’t apply to me or don’t interest me, it becomes harder to motivate myself to read intentionally with purpose.
Second, our classes don’t really focus on understanding and deepening our sense of the material. We basically just absorb a ton of information, and are expected to regurgitate it all out in either an exam or a paper. Instead of thinking about what we’re learning, we tend to just memorize as much as we can and hope for the best. Maybe if teachers or professors emphasized the importance of discussion and exploring the material, rather than getting a good grade, then maybe we would be learning this in a more multi-faceted way.
Writing and reading are like mirrors. Each one reflects the skill set of the other. The more I read these articles and studies on the connection between reading and writing, the more I realize that I can’t just focus on one and forget about the other. I’ve been neglecting my reading skills, and in turn, it has taken its tole on my writing.
The question is, what active steps do I take to get better? How can universities teach reading the way they teach writing? Maybe they should start a reading program. I’d be interested in that.