• Prompts for “On Reading and Thinking Critically” (due end of day Aug 31)

What does being a critical reader mean to you?

Respond to the questions on page 4: How do you usually approach a text that you want or need to understand? Do you usually practice critical reading habits? Why, or why not?

13 thoughts on “• Prompts for “On Reading and Thinking Critically” (due end of day Aug 31)

  1. -Being a critical reader means to me that the reader is not just trying to figure out the main idea, or plot of a piece, but rather to see the underlying themes and connections the author is trying to make. The ability to delve deeper into what the work is ultimately trying to accomplish leaves a critical reader with a better understanding and a stronger knowledge base than before they started. Being a critical reader means more than skimming the surface of literature.

    -When approaching a text that I need or want to understand, I begin by high-lighting what I feel could be important. I also underline, and make notes next to phrases or thoughts that I can’t seem to comprehend. These mark-ups make it easier to go back to without having to re-read the entire passage multiple times. The second or third time I am able to simply refer back to my notations to better help grasp what is being said.

  2. When I read a text, I choose to criticize in an organized fashion. My first step must be to first understand the text. In that sense, I read the entire text without applying any physical alterations. Instead, I summarize the main ideas the author chooses to represent. After this, I must begin to criticize. I would like to begin with structure. Perhaps the author could have formed a better structure in his work. Then, I question the actual points, how credible they are, whether he brought realistic examples for the reader to visualize, and how relevant the points actually are. Once that is done, I can continue on to his style. Finally, I would end with grammar and sentence and word usage.

  3. There are several types of texts – reference texts, that help me to do my job, entertainment texts like newspapers or magazines and academic texts that I don’t want but have to read and understand.
    First, being a sofware developer for almost 10 years I usually read the reference books to retrieve informartion I need to resolve an issue I faced. This texys are written be deveopers for developers and they are easy to understand for me. Second, the entertaining texts – I dont really think when I read. The purpose of this texts is to fill my time while I’m waiting for something – subway ride, next monday or just the winter to pass. Third. academic books, that is hard. Usually I read the text twice. The first time to get the whole idea in general, to find the word I don’t know. This time I think about the text as about just words and sentences. Then the second time I reead and think about ideas in the text. We can call it rudimentary critical reading that is much needed to be developed.

  4. Whenever I am reading a text that I need to understand, I take a quick review first, then I read it carefully . In case there is a word that I don’t fully understand, I look it up in the dictionary. After I am sure that I am familiar with the language used in the text, I re read it, trying to think about what the author wants to convey.
    In regards to being a critical reader, that’s a practice that I started to apply not too long ago. I try to understand the writer’s background and the reason why the writer has certain approach to the topic. However, there are certain topics that are hard for me to be critical (e.g. areas that I am not familiar with), I attempt to understand it by considering how I feel towards writer’s position.

  5. 1. A critical reader will read a work and analyze each part of it. The reader is able to break down the text to analyze its further meaning and how it relates to the rest of the article. They sometimes take notes or highlight important quotes or passages to help them break apart the rest of the article.
    2. When I need to understand text I usually read the passage and underline or highlight what I think is important quotes. Next I will skim through and go back to the quotes that I thought were important and break them apart, I see try to see how the quote relates to the rest of the passage and why I think it is important. I practice critical reading habits if I have to do it, but if it is not required I will only use them if I don’t understand something or think there is further meaning behind something. If I’m reading for pleasure I won’t go in depth with my critical reading habits.

  6. 1. To me, being a critical reader is someone who analyzes literature word by word to find a deep understanding of the literature as a whole
    2. I usually approach a text that I need or want to understand by reading the text a second or third time, while reading the text I generally like to take notes, highlight main points and try to discover something that I did not notice in a previous read.
    3. When I read I practice critical reading habits because I like to find the authors hidden messages or meanings that he/she may have put in their work.

  7. 1. -My interpretation of a critical reader can be outlined in two main points, one, understanding the text, and two, relating the text to real life or historical examples. I believe understanding the text and relating it, go hand in hand. One must truly understand what they have read, if someone reads something and they do not have a firm grasp on the main points and ideas in a piece they have not truly understood what the text is trying to convey. Similarly if one cannot understand the text to its capacity, then they cannot effectively relate and or imply the text to solidify its meaning. Simply put, if you cannot understand the text, and then place it correctly in a situation, you have failed to critically read that text.

    2. – To try and critically read a text I like to follow a couple techniques, which I believe, help me fully dissolve the text, and be able to “critically” read it through. One of my main techniques to reading might sound a little silly, but theirs no denying it works every time, and that is highlighting. Some might think highlighting is a girly practice, but when I tell you this works, it works. I think that highlighting is one of those things that you either “you love it” or “hate it”. Another technique that really helps me “critically” read a text is to skim it first. I think skimming a text prior to actually “reading” the text, lets you get a ball park view on what the text will talk about and give you a heads up of areas where you might want to focus or read a little slower at. These techniques combined, or at least for me, help to really take in what the text has to offer.

  8. 1. Being a critical reader to me is understanding and relating to the text from multiple viewpoints. It would involve considering the author’s background, time and place it was written, historical, philosophical and societal implications. It may also be about setting aside my own biases or beliefs wish calls for tremendous flexibility. I’d also check my own intuition and gut reactions as to how I ultimately feel about the material. It’s not measurable but, I believe, useful.

    2. If I need to understand a text, I’d likely skim it for (hopefully!) unconscious absorption of important or repeating terms, and for the overall structure/organization. Then I’ll read it thoroughly and check for comprehension along the way. If I’m reading fiction or “light” non-fiction I definitely don’t read critically. That’s for my enjoyment only. If the piece happens to ignite a critical spark in me I’ll absolutely indulge though. I do aim to be critical of academic non-fiction because a highly credible person or instruction deemed it worthy of understanding. I’m critical of instructional non-fiction because I’m likely reading it to learn something for my own sake and for its practical use in my life. I’ll take the steps noted above and possibly add a visual (or other sensory modality) component in my mind to process the material better. When I actually bother to do this it certainly slows down the reading but it does accelerate my learning.

  9. A critical reader is someone who reads thoroughly and analyzes the text. They understand the meaning behind what they read and can grasp the main idea of the passage.

    When approaching a text, I tend to try to make sure that after reading it I can summarize the it well. I underline things that I feel are important and add question marks to parts that I don’t fully understand. I usually practice some critical reading habits but I could always improve by using more. I tend to take notes if I feel the information I’m reading is important and I don’t want to forget certain points. I also tend to read aloud to myself if I don’t fully understand something. Hearing the words out loud can help me to better understand parts that I’m having difficulties with.

  10. When reading, I generally default to 10/11 of the critical reading activities listed on page 3. I am a question person. Sometimes, I end up losing myself when I question for too long… or I just end up talking out my thoughts.

    Recently, I have been taking a different approach.
    I ask myself what is the “One Thing” or “The One Golden Nugget” that I want to obtain from the reading session. I sift through the chapters and identify potential Chapters or sections of the text that may provide the densest form of the information I want.
    (Should take no more than fifteen minutes.)
    Then I read through the targeted sections of the text.
    (Varies depending on how much content is marked and remaining willpower available at the time)

    After I find my “Golden Nugget” or determine that I am looking at unsuitable locations, I generally stop reading and just do as little as possible for the next few minutes.
    (The reasoning behind this method is based on basic principles of learning… and some not so basic that I am not sure anyone cares much about.)

  11. 1) Being a critical reading to me means that the reader understand the text that they’re given from the beginning to the very end of that text. While you’re reading to understand the text, you’re also forming an (un)biased opinion of it. Obviously, we’re all human and our personal stories and backgrounds ultimately form our individual biases. However, to be a critical reader you must attempt to go beyond that and look at it from the author’s pov. Afterward, you ask yourself what the text was about. What was its purpose? Was it written to persuade or was it just written to contextualize a simple or many incontrovertible proofs? Further, during the critical reading process, you should be able to analyze, restate, and interpret what the text says. In turn, you can make an informed decision on whether you agree with the author or not.

    2) When I approach a text, it really depends on what it is exactly that I’m reading. If its non-fiction, I typically write in the margins (if it is my book) or make notes on a piece of paper. I ask myself questions and see if I understand the text. If I don’t, I go back a re-read and comb through it to see what exactly about that text that I don’t understand. It could be a simple word that I’ve never seen before that throws me off. Or, perhaps, the text is merely too dense and I need background information in order to adequately and intelligently understand it. It happens to us all! Further, if I am reading a fiction book, I tend not to be a critical reader more or less. I like to get drawn into the book and sometimes, I don’t read it verbatim and you kind of skim through it because you get the “gist” of the text. It’s meant to be fun and effortless.

  12. The way I approach reading a text critically is to objectively understand what the writer is trying to convey while maintaining my own point of view. This may be affected by a wide variety of outside influences including my own personal bias. I believe strongly that in order for me to read critically, I must think critically and apply this behavior to everyday life. An important process I utilize in being a critical ready is to understand not only what the writer has wrote, but to understand who that writer is and how he/she came to the conclusion that they did. I feel I read in this manner because I don’t want to dismiss or completely accept the validity of the message without having a thorough foundation of knowledge on the subject matter. I have seen many people misread or focus on something I have said at face value without considering the contextual background and often leads to confusion or irrelevant responses. Having multiple vantage points in the workplace has played an important role in critical decision making and having a more productive working relationship with co workers and superiors.

  13. 1. Being a critical reader for me comes down to one very simple question: do I like it or dislike it? If I dislike the text, I try to find the source of my irritation. Is the author biased (news outlets, biographies that were commissioned pursuing an agenda, etc.) or is it simply the style of writing that I don’t like? Recently I acquired a book that my friend wrote. The story is great but it was exhausting to read because he kept using very short phrases that were not even sentences. No verb. In the sentence. Ever. Very distracting.

    2. If I need to understand a text, the first thing I will do is read the first and last paragraphs, as they usually summarize the content of the text. Once that is done, I find that highlighting and taking notes in the margins have worked for me in order to gather key points.
    As far as practicing critical reading habits goes, I definitely try not to take anything I read at face value, as I’m a strong believer in taking into account multiple points of view on a matter before making my own mind on it.

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