The Quest Philosophy forReading Comprehension STUDENT LEARNING WORKSHOP #1 SPRING 2012
The Goals of ReadingMortimer Adler and Francis BaconCharles Van Doren “[t]here is still another “Some Bookes are to be Tasted, Others to be goal of reading, besides Swallowed, and Some Few gaining information to be Chewed and Digested: and understanding, That is, some Bookes are to be read onely in Parts; and that is Others to be read but not entertainment” (10). Curiously; and some Few to be read wholly, and with Diligence and Attention” (151, ll. 22-26).
Thesis: what to read, how to read, and why to read What is reading comprehension? “the process whereby a mind, with nothing to operate on but the symbols of the readable matter, and with no help from outside, elevates itself by the power of its own operations. The mind passes from understanding less to understanding more” (8). Students are best equipped with the ability to carry out this process when they are taught how to read the right books, in the right ways, for the right reasons – in short, the art of reading well.
What to Read: Treats, Water, and Meat/Vegetables
Books of Information or Entertainment 99% of all books written in the history of the western world Worthy only of being “tasted” or read in part or “skimmed” Fosters Mechanical, not organic Growth
The Good Books A few thousand books of the millions of books written in the history of the western world Worth reading analytically once; that is, deserving to be swallowed, but not necessarily chewed/ digested Fosters organic, not mechanical growth
The Great Books Less than one hundred books of those written in the history of the western world Cannot be outgrown or exhausted Worthy of reading analytically many times over Analogous to Bacon’s description of those “Few [texts which ought] to be Chewed and Digested” Fosters organic growth
How to Read: Tasting, Swallowing, Chewing, and Digesting
The Essence of Active Reading:1. Ask Questions 1. What is the book about as a whole? 2. What is being said in detail, and how? 3. Is the book true, in whole or part? 4. What of it?2. Mark your text
Inspectional Reading Two Stages Systematic Skimming or Prereading Analogous to “Tasting” Superficial Reading Analogous to “Swallowing”
Analytical Reading or “Chewing” Reading the Four types of Arguments 1. Definitional 2. Cause/Effect 3. Evaluative 4. Problem/Solution
Syntopical Reading or “Digesting” Survey the Field Read Syntopically
Why to Read: the two Questions of a Great Education What is the nature of reality? How should a life be lived?