Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Read, read, read...
"Read, read, read...Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!"
"I went back to the good nature books that I had read. And I analyzed them. I wrote outlines of whole books, outlines of chapters, so that I could see their structure. And I copied down their transitional sentences or their main sentences or their closing sentences or their lead sentences. I especially paid attention to how these writers made transitions between paragraphs and scenes."
In these quotations, the Nobel Prize, winning novelist William Faulkner and the Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist Annie Dillard tell us what many authors know intuitively, that reading critically helps writers learn to write well.
Reading closely and critically also helps students become analytical thinkers. There is a connection between reading closely and critically and writing thoughtfully and effectively.
We must read for meaning and read like a writer. Read to analyze underlying assumptions leads us to think more critically about the cultural beliefs and values implicit in the reading's word choices and assertions. I encourage students to examine the cultural bases for their own assumptions as readers.
Putting our questions aside even temporarily allows us to be open to new ideas. But reading critically requires that we examine every idea, we own as well as those of others, skeptically.
Reading critically helps us to write well. It leads us to fuller understanding of the topic and it will enable us to avoid superficiality and oversimplification in our writing. Good writing challenges readers.