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Friday, 13 March 2015

Learning To Read

It has come to my attention through a series of discussions with individuals in several states, that many adults have never learned how to read properly. Those of us who had classical education were taught systematically how to read and how to spell. The old Catholic schools of the 1950s and 1960s used tried and true methods of phonics to teach.

Later on in my life, when I did Montessori training, this background helped me learn the method easily, as it was second nature to me.

Two areas of problems with reading have come to my attention talking with a spectrum of adults who read and do not understand what they read.

The first is this: reading comprehension demands attention not only to the written word, but to the tone and style of the text. For example, one must determine if an article is factual, satirical, historical, and so on. If one reads the same authors daily for news, for example, one understands the tone and style immediately with practice. But those who were taught to read words in a context, understand tone and style, not missing the meaning or having to try and figure out the meaning.

Example: Pat Buchanan has a brilliant website. He has a tratiional style of writing which involves presenting facts, but with an obvious slant. One immediately understands that his work will be and always is, "conservative". If one does not want to read a really politically conservative website, one skips Mr. Buchanan's articles.

One can pick up quickly the slant of an online magazine or newspaper as well. Again, for example, the Huffington Post is liberal, and the Telegraph is more conservative and so on.

Still on this first point, the same is true of Catholic periodicals and blogs on line, as well as websites. One can list the trad blogs, the trad newspapers and the trad websites.

One can also see the liberal ones if one knows how to read.

I am building up to looking at two particular media outlets on line which people have seen as confusing and explain why.

Second point: not only do people miss the vocabulary and signals which tell them the slant or tone, but they assume things in the reading. For example, too many young people doubt scholarship or assume scholarship, not knowing how to read sources or look at sourced material.

For years and years, I taught research skills, and I forget that people do not know how to do research if they did not have a decent liberal arts education. Learning to do research takes time and effort, as well as focusing on a few things. One learns to trust certain authors who do not merely give their opinion, but indicated their sources. For example, I list my sources in the perfection and Doctors of the Church series.

Here comes the reason for this post. Recently, a well-established Catholic newspaper decided to change its format to a magazine. More photos, jazzy articles, less or even no sourcing material. I am referring to the British Catholic Herald. I shall no longer bother to follow authors on that site.

Why? Tone and style has become subjective and personalized, even satirical instead of serious. Two, sources are missing in most if not many of the articles.

Sorry, I am not interested in second-rate journalist's opinions. Opinion has no place in a major Catholic newspaper except on the editorial page. When articles consistently fall into subjective opinion reflecting a style or tone of superiority of authorship which is not there, these articles are not only not trustworthy, but merely an expression of mediocrity. Excellence cannot be earned without hard work.

Secondly, facts and ideas must be sourced. Period.

Well, there is one less site I need to read weekly.

Simplifies life...