Sunday, 28 October 2012

Active Reading

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:
  1. 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?
  2. Then, read the chapter and highlight the key points.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
  1. First she marks out with string the area of the ground that she is going to dig.
  2. Then she goes to work with a spade and, as she finds interesting artifacts, sets them to one side.
  3. Next she sorts through the artifacts and writes up the findings in her journal.
  4. 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.

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