Monday, January 30, 2012

Slow down you read too fast!

Here is a post by Thomas Newkirk an English professor at UNH called Reading is not a race: The virtues of the ‘slow reading’ movement where he talks about slowing down the pace of reading and a few other traditional reading practices that are often lacking in educational settings today. His new book is called The Art of Slow Reading: Six Time-Honored Practices for Engagement. He starts off by alluding to the Dibels tests that seem a standard reading test in many elementary schools:

Go to just about any elementary school in this country and you will see teachers with stopwatches assessing “nonsense word fluency.” When I first heard the term, I though someone was pulling my leg. Fluency in reading, I had always thought, was about meaning, about understanding. It had nothing to do with nonsense.

But children are tested regularly in 60-second bursts on meaningless letter combinations — often pushed to go faster than one per second. Fluency equates to speed. I understand the importance of decoding skill, and I’m sure that some kids — the sprinters — might like this form of racing. But I wonder what image of reading we are passing on, and how the stragglers feel.

What is slow reading?

Slow reading is also about recovering old practices that have traditionally aided readers in paying attention — oral performance, annotation, exploring complex and difficult passages. It is about reading that generates ideas for writing, what Ralph Waldo Emerson called “creative reading.” And even memorization.

 Why slow reading?

By slowing down, by refusing to see reading as a form of consumption or efficient productivity, we can attend to word meanings and sound, building a bridge to the oral traditions that writing arose out of. We can hold passages in memory, we can come to the view that good texts are inexhaustible. And by being patient and deliberate, we can tackle difficult texts.
The goal of reading instruction should not be to rush this process, not to put students on the clock, but to say in every way possible — “This is not a race. Take your time. Pay attention. Touch the words and tell me how they touch you”

I suppose you could just call it something like "thoughtful" reading!