“Toward a Composing Model of Reading” Response

Overall, I think the idea of reading mirroring the compositional form of writing, complete with planning, drafting, aligning, and revising stages, is a useful one. Three key ideas from the article I took away were:

1. “The goals that readers or writers set have a symbiotic relationship with the knowledge they mobilize…” The point about how just as writers give meaning to a piece by envisioning the audience for which they are writing, readers also ascribe meaning to the same piece of writing by taking into account both their viewpoints and the author’s. This is important because it means that the ultimate message of writing is influenced by both the reader and author.

2. “…schema theoretic studies involving an analysis of the influence of a reader’s perspective have shown that if readers are given different alignments prior to or after reading a selection, they will vary in what and how much they will recall…” This is interesting in terms of cognitive schemas: the context in which we perceive the world, or in this case, a piece of writing. Readers assuming an intended audience member can draw more/different ideas from readers that assume a generic position.

3. “We have found that readers of the first text usually assume a sympathetic collaboration with the writer and identify with the characters.” Viewing reading and writing as an act of indirect collaboration reinforces the idea of approaching each in a similar compositional model. It is interesting how readers critical of an author often do not identify with the author’s content, or cannot align their own viewpoint with the author’s.

Many ideas mentioned in the article resonated with me, but I did have a few qualms with the authors’ stance. First, I do not think reading and writing can be viewed as completely mirrored processes. This is because with writing, although the author’s work is shaped by his/her intended audience, the compositional process is far less dependent on the reader than the act of reading is on a concrete piece of writing. Secondly, I do not think that a compositional process of reading is entirely practical for every scenario. Rather, I think the reader can engage in simultaneous planning, drafting, and aligning, and that their comprehension will still be improved.

Can there be there such thing as a “reading draft”?

For today’s reading I read “Toward A Composing Model of Reading” by Tierney and Pearson. In the article, they argue that reading involves the same kind of recursive process that writing does, referring to this process as a “drafting” process akin to drafts for writing. While I agree that reading is a continuous process in which your first take on whatever you’re reading can evolve and change as you continue to consider and reconsider the piece, I would not necessarily call this a “drafting” process. When I think of the word “draft,” I think of storyboards, rough sketches, outlines, and other modes of planning for writing. It is confusing to consider the process of really actively thinking about reading a “draft” because of the current associations we all have with that word. I do agree that speed reading for fact retention is too static a process, and rather reading and analyzing our thoughts on readings ought to be a recursive and never-ending process like writing, I don’t think it makes sense to call this a mode of “drafting.”

That being said, I did agree with the piece when Tierney and Pearson recognize the importance of alignment when reading and writing. When reading or writing, you always play a role in the collaboration. Whether you feel like an outsider or an insider, a student or a teacher, a participant or an observer, both reader and writer always play some role. I like to consider writing (and reading) as a collaboration between reader, writer, and their respective backgrounds that they bring to the conversation. What I mean is, not only is our writing affected by our circumstance, where we live, how we grew up, our past experiences etc…but our reading is equally affected by such background. There is no such thing as writing in a pure vacuum for no audience! I like how the article recognizes this.

I’ll end with a visual idea of recursion…writing (and reading) never really ends, does it?