Active reading, as advocated by Scott Young, entails more than simply letting the words bounce off your eyeballs. Instead you apply a succession of filters to drill down into the chapter you are reading:
- First, scan through the chapter to get the gist of it. How long is it? Does it contain diagrams? Are there lots of information dense sections?
- Then, read the chapter and highlight the key points.
- Next, re-read the highlighted sections and summarize them in your notebook. Re-wording the information forces you to consider it in more depth, and begins the process of understanding it.
- Finally, read the summaries and do the extra holistic learning work e.g. make metaphors, 'visceralize', write a blog article etc :-)
Having watched Scott's video about the technique (part of the Learn More, Study Less course) I decided to apply it to the short chapter on active reading contained in the accompanying book. Having done so, I came up with the metaphor of an archaeologist at a dig:
- First she marks out with string the area of the ground that she is going to dig.
- Then she goes to work with a spade and, as she finds interesting artifacts, sets them to one side.
- Next she sorts through the artifacts and writes up the findings in her journal.
- Finally, back in the warmth of her office, she works through her journal and tries to marry up the findings with research or previous historical findings.
I have no idea if this is what an archaeologist does, but it does help me to internalize the active reading process by considering it from a different angle. Books contain ideas, you need to dig them out and then link them to your existing knowledge, so that you remember them.