Jim Kwik’s speed reading program is one that Sean Croxton recommends. I have not done the course, and don’t know much about it. I’m letting Sean speak for it. Kwik Learning’s ten foundational principles are:
1. People are inherently capable of genius.
2. Our brain can perform at extraordinary levels when properly used and trained, but our brains do not come with an owners manual.
3. Our 20th century assembly line, “one size fits all” education, has left us ill prepared for our fast paced knowledge economy.
4. Exponential technology has led to an unprecedented data explosion, the gap between what we need to learn and the slow pace people learn it, has created massive information anxiety and overwhelm.
5. School teaches ‘what’ to learn (math, history, science, etc), but not ‘how’ to learn.
Majortests.com has 14 reading comprehension selections you could use to practice for the SAT. There are also, of course, plenty of books you could buy to get reading practice.
How horrible the reading skills of too many American students in public, private, and home schools!! Poor kids. That’s not fair to them. (However, a big part of the problem is not the teachers or parents, but the methodology used to teach reading — it is not based on a philosophy of reason and objectivity. What’s more, we also have a culture that does not value, or that disdains, reading and reasoning. Teaching and valuing reading properly depends on valuing and understanding reasoning properly. It’s not that most teachers or parents are out to do harm to their students and children, It’s that we have bad tools in our toolbox.)
Students are not taught to read: they are not taught to find the logical structure of a reading, to find evidence for an argument, to assess arguments, to identify how characters in a work of fiction feel about the world, to identify what an author of a work of fiction believes about the world. Reading is a critical skill: it gives us access to fully developed theories, i.e., fully developed thoughts, or to fully developed stories; it gives us access to the thoughts of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, whose advice, wisdom and thoughts are of inestimable value in our decision-making and hence lives; it and writing allow us to make the most of reasoning and logic. Without reading and writing we are, unfortunately, limited in what we can understand and hence do.
Reading and writing are critical skills to teach in education, if we want to prepare our children to live an independent, fulfilled, totally happy life.
I have been glad to have worked with some students on these skills. This is true value-added education!!!
“When a man opens a book or fires a gun, he has no idea what the effect will be or how far the shot will travel.”
– Louis L’Amour (from the novel Reilly’s Luck; hope I got the quote exact: I’m listening to Audible, and only checked it once; hope I remembered right!)
This quote does a good job of expressing the power and the reality of books and ideas.
Visit FreeClassicAudioBooks.com for some free downloads of audio versions of classic books. HT: A member of a discussion list.
Update (10:10 PM): More at LibriVox.org.
In “Glorifying Indifference to Literature” (Core Knowledge Blog, August 30, 2009), Diana Senechal writes:
The New York Times story on the “reading workshop” method glorifies indifference toward literature.
This so-called movement is led by people who don’t love literature enough to defend it, and who don’t care about history enough to find out that their revolution is nothing revolutionary. It glorifies a certain indifference.
The movement writes off the literature itself. It writes off the teachers who teach it well and inspire their students to love it. It writes off the possibility that literature will affect students’ entire lives and stay in their minds, in ways that teen novels cannot do. Proponents say, “Look, the kids are reading; this is working!” They do not stop to think that reading 20 pages a day is not the same as grappling with literature. The chicken coop is not a palace. (Oops–no one teaches Dostoevsky anymore.)
I taught Sophocles’ Antigone (among many other works of literature) to my eighth grade ESL students. We had heated debates in class. Students wrote thoughtful essays. I thought, “How much more they will understand when they read it in high school!” Then I realized they probably wouldn’t read it in high school. They would probably never have it assigned to them again.
Mr. Robert Pondiscio says in “New York Times Discovers Reader’s Workshop” (Core Knowledge Blog, August 29, 2009 ):
Update: “Progressive schools let kids pick their own books in the 1920s and 1930s. Now it is supposed to be a major innovation. Ha!” tweets Diane Ravitch, who is quoted in the piece. The paper “applauds the death of any version of a common culture.” Just desserts of the NY Times,” she adds. “By encouraging the death of reading, they doom the NY Times.”
“Progressive schools.” That’s John Dewey’s baby…
In Interview with a Children’s Librarian on PBSParents.com, a librarian named Natalie says:
Poetry celebrates the individual word, the sound of language, and the rhythm of language in a way that narrative does not. It is a fun, short, tasty morsel to share with children. I think it’s important to expose very young children to poetry because children build the foundation for learning to read through being exposed to the sounds and rhythms of language. For older children, I think poetry is a great vehicle for learning how complex thoughts, humorous ideas, deep emotions, or entire narratives can be expressed with a few carefully chosen words.
In “Lasting effects of phonics instruction” on the Teaching Effectively! blog, JohnL quotes what appears to be the abstract of a study:
Thompson, G. B., Connelly, Vincent, Fletcher-Flinn, C. M. & Hodson, S. J. (2009). The nature of skilled adult reading varies with type of instruction in childhood. Memory & Cognition, 37, 223-234.
Does the type of reading instruction experienced during the initial years at school have any continuing effect on the ways in which adults read words? The question has arisen in current discussions about computational models of mature word-reading processes. We tested predicted continuing effects by comparing matched samples of skilled adult readers of English who had received explicit phonics instruction in childhood and those who had not. In responding to nonwords that can receive alternative legitimate pronunciations, those adults having childhood phonics instruction used more regular grapheme-phoneme correspondences that were context free and used fewer vocabulary-based contextually dependent correspondences than did adults who had no phonics instruction. These differences in regularization of naming responses also extended to some low-frequency words. This apparent cognitive footprint of childhood phonics instruction is a phenomenon requiring consideration when researchers attempt to model adult word reading and when they select participants to test the models.
I have not looked into the study so I don’t know anything about its methods and validity, but it sounds interesting and worth looking into.
Looks like Dr. Bertonneau has written a scholarly article on the role written language plays in reasoning. So I’ll let him speak, thus saving myself from having to write a long article/essay on the claim he makes in his “What, Me Read?” series that writing and reasoning go hand in hand.
Dr. Bertonneau introduces his article “Orality, Literacy and the Tradition” by saying:
I want to discuss what I take to be the basic, or the deep, justification of the traditional curriculum. By “the traditional curriculum,” I mean the Greek and Roman classics, the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and items from modern and national literatures. … But I also mean by “the traditional curriculum” the basic training in literacy that comes before any acquaintance with the classics, or with a literature of any kind.
After mentioning a few differences between cuneiform and the Syrian and Greek alphabets, Dr. Bertonneau writes:
Consider Eric Havelock’s contention in Preface to Plato (1963) and in the somewhat less familiar Origins of Western Literacy (1976) that the appearance of alphabetic writing corresponds to a revolution in thinking.
Which revolution in thinking could be described as follows:
The Pope Center‘s Clarion Call has posted Mr. Bertonneau‘s third and final installment of his series “What, Me Read?” I don’t have time to write about it now; I have not even read it. But here’s an excerpt:
Some writing specialists excuse bad writing on the hopeful supposition that a gap exists between cognition and expression—similar to the way a stroke victim can have a complex thought, but cannot properly verbalize it. That is, students who write badly nevertheless know what they want to say, or what they have read, as well as anyone else. I have concluded that no evidence supports this postulate. Having no other means to discern cognition than through its expression, one must take as a given that expression is cognition.
Defective writing, unlike the stroke victim’s aphasia, reveals more than mere awkwardness of expression; it reveals the confusions that becloud both the act of reading and the subsequent attempt at a mental sorting out of the narrative. The individual who cannot see things clearly cannot think about them clearly. Likewise those who cannot make sense of stories, which represent cause and effect in the human world, will have difficulty making sense of the actual human world, to which stories refer.
That ought to whet your curiosity.
I’d tend to agree with him. Without years of experience teaching, without years of experience teaching myself, and without familiarity with philosophy, I would not have been able to come to this conclusion. I’ll explain in later posts.