Everything from:reading technique

Ways of reading

In conversation with a colleague today I stumbled upon a new way of looking at a problem I’ve been pondering for a while now: the hierarchy we ascribe to different genres. It’s not a constant hierarchy, but it’s a pernicious one in my opinion, since I write one of the less respected ones. I’m sure it’s a very arguable hierarchy, but the specifics are less important than the overall shape. I’m finding myself more and more of the opinion that the way we read is what separates “difficult” from “easy” work. It goes back to my earlier thoughts on metacognition: whether we read aurally or visually is surely a factor. Where’s the attraction of genre fiction if you’re just hearing a story in your head, told blandly, one word at a time? On the other hand, if you’re right there with Reacher as he crushes someone’s windpipe with his bare hands or something, it’s a bit of a thrill–but you can do this much more easily when your brain is gulping down entire sentences or paragraphs and converting them into experience. Where I find the greatest fulfilment, of course, is in speculative writing that also lives up to a high […]

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I know I’m not the only person to have found phonics a colossal waste of time. I think I was the only one in my third grade class to have worked ahead up to the end of the sixth grade syllabus, though, after which I was permitted to ignore the subject for several glorious years. Phonics bored and confused me–not the performance of the exercises, in which I excelled, but the whole subject itself. It seemed to me, at the time, to be about breaking up language into pieces small enough that they no longer had meaning. It wasn’t like derivations, which led you back through history to stranger and older words; it was only about sounds, grunting inelegant sounds without meanings of their own. I did not discover until well into adulthood that phonics was actually considered a mode of teaching reading. Why on earth would a person read by making sounds? Reading was much simpler than that, to me: the word wasn’t a picture of a sound, it was a picture of a concept (and since I’d been doing it since before I started school, I had never thought about reading as a thing that needed to be […]

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