Reading taken to new levels

Reading taken to new levels

We are always encouraged to set out New Year’s Resolutions when a fresh year approaches. Advertisers and retailers entice us with the idea of starting a new diet, taking up exercises, having a new car in the garage or stepping into the New Year with a revamped wardrobe.

These are all good ideas (if you can afford them!), but have you made any resolutions towards your learning for 2013? There is still time!

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It is clear to the majority of us that writing is a skill that could be brushed up, or even initiated. This realization is a good start. Now, as with any other skill, there are steps to be taken and some exercises to be done.

For starters, let’s just think of what comes before we put pen to paper. Let’s venture even further. Let’s talk a bit about what is crucial to a successful life of learning.

When the senses make sense

Reading is not only to make sense of a group of letters together; it is the way we understand the world around us. It makes ‘all sense’ to think this way, especially considering that we use ‘all our senses’ to read! The way we perceive the world around us is the result of what our senses inform our minds.

When passing in front of a bakery you may be tempted to enter it and order a slice of an apple pie, just led by the smell that is “to die for”. The aroma makes you imagine a hot and tasty pie and these assumptions must be put to the test, of course. The taste tells some more about the pie and it can determine whether or not you are going to become a regular in that place.

If you ring the local library to obtain some information on a certain book and the voice on the other side sounds very friendly, clear and appealing, you probably ask the attendant’s name and, on your next visit to the library, you will probably look for that person.

When blindfolded and presented with the challenge of finding out what an object is just by touching it, you have to completely trust in your knowledge of sizes, shapes and textures communicated to you through your touch and the other senses.

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What can be said about what we see? So much. It is a pity though how deceptive sight can be if we ignore the other senses – and good sense! – and choose to jump to conclusions based solely on what meets the eye. Still, from all the senses, our sight seems to be the one we enjoy the most. There is no way to measure what comes into our minds through our eyes!

What now?

Now, let’s think about what we do with all these pieces of information and knowledge that our senses allow us to gather; how we read them and what we do with what we read.

Let’s focus on the words presented to us.

There are three levels of reading: lines, between the lines and beyond the lines. The level lines consists in what the text is clearly stating. The message is plain and there is no room for personal interpretation. Meaning is found directly in the text.

Example: The teacher picked up the book and started reading it.

The level between the lines says that there is a message implicit in what you are reading; you can easily connect the dots and understand the message between the lines.

Example: The teacher picked up the book and started reading from it. She hears someone yawning and decides to call the principal.

The message between the lines? Someone might be told off!

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The level beyond the lines is up to the reader’s own world. With the text at hand the reader can either make associations with his or her previous knowledge or conclude what is not in the text or turn it into something totally different.

Example: The teacher picked up the book and started reading from it. She heard someone yawning and decided to call the principal. She could not put up with that insolent behaviour any longer.

It is up to the reader. I will give you an idea of my reading beyond the lines:

This teacher might have been bored and, as a result, her classes were uninteresting. Unable to tackle the problem – even though she knows exactly what it is – she calls upon an authority. She takes this action in order to continue what she is doing without interruptions. Then she waits until the clock strikes midday and it is time to go home and be free of those students and of that job. She will then put her feet up when she gets to her place and have some wine. Who knows, she may start reading something that will make her either change her job or her attitude towards it.

I could go on and on. My opinions, creativity and imagination could offer you other ‘readings’ too.

The reading that changes

Reading should make us better; it should instill in us the desire to get to know better the world and its inhabitants.

I hope these points we have just touched on will help you. May 2013 see more and different readings – and writings – taken to new levels.

Happy reading!

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Erica De Monaco Lowry

Erica De Monaco Lowry has been living in Ireland since 2008. She is a teacher, an interpreter, a translator, a tour guide and an insatiable learner. Her favorite pastimes include reading, travelling, socialising and catching up with her family.

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