Monthly Tips

The Text’s the Thing

It happens every year. Some unsuspecting student reading Shakespeare or poetry will whine, “But how am I ever going to need this in real life?” A couple of older students roll their eyes as I pull out my soapbox for a familiar lecture.

Passionately and convincingly (I hope) I explain to the innocent youngster that reading and analyzing written language is one of the most important skills she will learn in school. How do I know? I probably cannot even fathom the occupations that most of our students will pursue in the future. Certainly jobs that are popular today, such as app designer, social media manager or sustainability expert, weren’t even conceived of when I was in school. However, the ability to comprehend what you read is a necessity for any job. Separating what’s important in a text, scanning for key points, deciding what is believable and citing relevant information appropriately are all skills that are used for a lifetime, not only in academia.

Furthermore, learning to think critically and analytically is important for citizens of the future to be able to understand the important issues facing our planet and devise creative solutions. People who don’t use critical thinking skills tend to understand things superficially, never delving below the surface for the real or implied meanings. Individuals who have learned how to think are much more likely to identify bias, consider all relevant factors, make complex comparisons, problem solve and achieve a desired result. Critical thinking is at the root of all human progress. I could go on all day.

As parents, how then do we encourage students to attack all textual material with a critical, analytical eye? Several research-based techniques can enhance these skills with both younger and older readers.

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smortoThe Text’s the Thing