Reading, and knowing what you’re reading can be two different things. According to this exposing article, ACT examination results (used in the USA for college entry) are revealing that many high school students are not equipped for university-level coursework when it comes to reading comprehension skills of “complex texts.”
The answer to this problem may be in what is referred to as ‘slow reading.’ That is, taking the time to read without the Internet’s presence, without distractions and…slowly of course! It may be time for teachers and parents to begin encouraging ‘slow reading’ as a learning method. Some say it should be in school curriculums.
As many have commented online, the ‘quick and easy’ Internet of our world today makes it feel too cumbersome to learn a topic in detail. When you Google a question, you often don’t even have to click to read an article anymore – Google’s search results pages are showing question answers immediately. And, much of the internet is written for quick consumption too, as noted in the article linked-to above.
Is this a way to learn comprehension strategies? Will our future generations know the importance of taking time to understand a topic fully? Will they be able to ‘connect the dots’ in a story plot line, even if it’s on paper and not a TV show? Can they pick up on sub texts? Can they ‘get’ the metaphors they are reading? Do they know what cultural phrases and sayings mean today, and in history? Did they ask themselves a question at all, while reading?
‘Slow reading’ advocates would say the art of comprehension is dwindling. So, in this article, we’ll give 3 benefits for teachers and parents to encourage slow reading as a learning method:
1: ‘Slow reading’ is challenging, and that’s good; it helps you analyze
According to the video on this Wall Street Journal article, slow reading can increase your ability to analyze. Just like slow food, the digestion of material is better for you. You get to know the topic you’re reading, and you get to form opinions about it too. Dare we say: that might lead to new ideas in this world?
It’s hard these days to sit down, read, and do nothing else but delve into your book. The accomplishment in itself can be a practice in ‘de-connecting’ and winding down.
See related articles:
- How much is too much screen time?
- Focus on kid’s health: kids staring at a screen while studying in the dark can be harmful
- 7 brain games for kids
2: ‘Slow reading’ can teach you new things, creating more ‘ah ha’ moments
Think about it: when you read in-depth, you become more aware of more topics in a detailed way. We’re not talking about trivia knowledge. In reading, you may learn something new in one ‘ah ha’ moment, even though that moment was just a blip in time compared to the rest of your reading session. Teens who read in-depth topics will be able to connect those ‘ah ha’ moments, by memory, to lessons they’re learning in the classroom at school.
Need an example of how this plays out in education? In one of our past articles on this blog, we wrote about, “6 Science lessons using chickens as the common theme.” You’d be surprised how many topics in science that the thought of a mere chicken can bring up. But knowing more about individual topics can help a person put them together, and see their relatedness,. This results in a more comprehensive view of our world.
Making connections between subjects relates to interdisciplinary learning. And, this is what STEM and STEAM education are all about these days. They ‘connect the dots’ between the applications of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Knowing these topics in depth – that is, reading and learning about them carefully – can bring about great inventions, as we’re seeing in the Maker education movement.
3: ‘Slow reading’ helps you understand other people
In this article about ‘slow reading’ by the Guardian, an argument is made that the practice is about being able to understand what an author is saying, at a deeper level. This is the point brought up in the first article we linked to above, where we learned that students are not ready for college-level reading based on ACT analysis. The author says,
One can’t rush by phrases from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden—such as, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately”—and still follow the meaning of the work. Readers must stop for a moment, even if only to shake their heads and mumble, “Huh?” They insert a hesitant question before moving on. What does he mean, “deliberately”?”
When you have to understand what another person is saying, whether or not they are being blunt with you, it helps you also understand what they’re going through, who they are, and the reason for saying what they say.
This can lead to greater interpersonal skills. A good, slow read of a text can help with that. After all, the more ways we know how to say things, the more ways we will be able to understand them.
‘Slow reading’ doesn’t have to wait, but it does have to be scheduled
Given the movement of ‘slow reading’ is all about ‘unplugging’ from our electronic world, it’s no wonder the activity is being encouraged as something you schedule. It’s something you make time for, not that you necessarily do on your own automatically.
As teachers and parents, we can incorporate ‘slow reading’ into classroom or family time. For teachers, we also found this resource to help students learn about reading comprehension, so they know what the goal of ‘slow reading’ time is.
Whether reading on a tablet, Kindle or on hardcopy paper, comprehension is important. The more you do it, the better you’ll likely become at it. While ‘purists’ of the ‘slow reading’ movement may disagree with our comment on using an electronic device, we would simply say: do what you know won’t tempt you! That is, if you’re bound to go online while reading on a tablet, then don’t use one for this activity.