The OF Blog: How would you teach people to read?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

How would you teach people to read?

Last month, I asked a largely-rhetorical question on why people read.  This month, I'm going to ask something a bit more challenging:  how would you teach people to read?  By this, I do not mean teaching someone the rudiments of a written language, but rather how to read, namely literature of any sort.  Curious to see the responses.


Mike said...

That's a great topic. I taught myself to speed read a few years back, and have read more in each of the last 3 or 4 years than the 20+ previous combined. It has allowed me to read widely, with less abandon, and the variety of influences and topics that I read has opened up my mind quite a lot.
I think in answer to your question, I would teach people to read widely and to go with whims, and to feel no guilt at struggling or letting texts go. To complement that, I think deep reading of literature or any text that grabs a person is important and inspiring.
So two extremes...

Roland said...

Start with easy stuff that the reader is almost sure to like; cater to their tastes.
Once they realize reading can be fun, gradually add more difficult books that require more of the reader.
Takes a long time of course, which is why I think it's hard to do in a classroom.
This should be done from childhood ideally.

I guess this answer is the most expected and obvious one. But I don't think you can throw Kafka or Gene Wolfe at someone not used to reading.

Yona said...

read with your pyjamas on!

@ mike: how do you teach yourself to speedread? what does that mean?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to be able to speed read. My reading is so slow. What's your secret Mike? :)


Ben Godby said...

I don't know how to generate a deep appreciation of something - literature or otherwise - in anyone; I suspect it would be nigh impossible. I, for example, enjoy reading hundreds-year old philosophy texts, but can't be bothered to work through similarly aged pieces of literature. Can someone really impart to me some kind of wisdom, some ability, some truth or secret that would make me suddenly "get it?" Just like I can't convince people to read Martin Heidegger's Being and Time just for fun, I suspect nothing other than the movements of my own soul could cause me to appreciate, say, Cervantes' Don Quixote.

S.M.D. said...

I have no idea, but I'm doing it in three weeks, so...I guess I should figure that out soon.

Mike said...

No secrets, really. I pretty much churned through all the "speed-reading", photo-reading, etc. stuff I could get my hands on, took the things that made sense (I studied psychology, so a lot of it does, but there is also a lot of chaff around) and now I read faster. I eventually found a book by Peter Kump (iirc) that had great exercises, and a 6 week program. I did that every 6 months for 2 years, when I had the time as an undergrad.

Add to Technorati Favorites