Tag Archives: Reading

Curious Case of Critical Reading

A lot has been said and written about the advantages of the internet and the speed at which we are consuming the information. The digital age has officially arrived but we are ignoring the harmful side-effects of the phenomenon. The neurons in our brain are reorganizing themselves in ways that would allow us to process the bits of information at the speed of light. But we don’talways read IMs, e-mails, tweets and Facebook status updates; we are also required to read, as part of our job or course work, research articles, books and project reports. As a result of this restructuring, we tend to feel agitated and impatient whenever we are confronted with academic literature. We are finding ourselves in sort of a catch-22 situation.
We don’t want to skim/skip the academic text. We also are also unable to go through the entire text as quickly as we would like to while also retaining the information required to really grasp the concepts and we often end up feeling overwhelmed.
This Do It In A Second Tendency (DIIAST) is causing a sense of discomfort in today’s generation. I am not sure about the percentage of population suffering from DIIAST but based on my interaction with my peer group, I am reasonably sure that the percentage would be as high as 20-30%. A lot of people today are suffering from things like impatience and anxiety, they tend to break down under pressure. The definition of efficiency in today’s digital world is the ability to consume a lot data as quickly as possible, without giving it a second thought. Effectiveness, on the other hand, has lost completely lost its meaning.
I recently came across a pair of research projects – respectively, the Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack Survey, and analysis by Jakob Nielsen – both of these projects suggest that many of us no longer have the focus and concentration to read articles completely. This means we are gradually losing our ability to reflect, contemplate and relate.
To help us through this, an esoteric literary movement has been gaining ground from quite some time now. They want us to take our time while reading, and rereading to rediscover the joy of personal engagement with the physical/electronic text, and the ability to process them fully. Some academic techniques are available to get us started on the path of critical reading. This process, without doubt, is going to be frustrating. Here I would like to quote Professor Ramnath Narayanswamy of IIM Bangalore. In one of his lectures he said:

                                                “All knowledge comes with pain”

 
This made intuitive sense, these simple words also sum up the entire article beautifully.
Detailed explanation of critical reading techniques are not in the interest of the article. Therefore, I am only writing down the names so that you can search them on the internet at your convenience.
 
1.      SQ3R
2.      The P2R System
3.      The S-Run System
 
Please remember, there is no need to hurry up through the articles, you don’t need to know everything at once. Savor every word and sentence, immerse yourself in the beauty of the text, notice the formation of the argument, read from author’s point of view, engage with the text, argue with it, agree and disagree with it, come up with alternative explanations and so on. There is no point in mindless reading of information, computers can do that job better than you. As a human, our duty is to reflect upon what we have read. Contemplation and reflection takes time but we must make some sacrifice to be able to push through new frontiers of knowledge.
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