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8 Tips To Remember What You Read

Horizontal Stacked BooksDespite television, cell phones, and Twitter, traditional reading is still an important skill. Whether it is school textbooks, magazines, or regular books, people still read, though not as much as they used to. One reason that many people don’t read much is that they don’t read well. For them, it is slow, hard work and they don’t remember as much as they should. Students, for example,may have to read something several times before they understand and remember what they read.

Why? You would think that schools teach kids how to read well. Schools do try. I work with middle-school teachers and they tell me that many students are 2-3 years behind grade level in reading proficiency. No doubt, television, cell phones, and the Web are major contributors to this problem, which will apparently get worse if we don’t emphasize and improve reading instruction.

Some of the blame can be placed on the fads in reading teaching, such as phonics and “whole language,” which sometimes are promoted by zealots who don’t respect the need for both approaches. Much of the blame for poor reading skills can be laid at the feet of parents who set poor examples and, of course, on the youngsters who are too lazy to learn how to read well.

For all those who missed out on good reading skills, it is not too late. I summarize below what I think it takes to read with good speed and comprehension.

  1. Read with a purpose.
  2. Skim first.
  3. Get the reading mechanics right.
  4. Be judicious in highlighting and note taking.
  5. Think in pictures.
  6. Rehearse as you go along.
  7. Stay within your attention span and work to increase that span.
  8. Rehearse again soon.

1) Know Your Purpose

Everyone should have a purpose for their reading and think about how that purpose is being fulfilled during the actual reading. The advantage for remembering is that checking continuously for how the purpose is being fulfilled helps the reader to stay on task, to focus on the more relevant parts of the text, and to rehearse continuously as one reads. This also saves time and effort because relevant items are most attended.

Identifying the purpose should be easy if you freely choose what to read. Just ask yourself, “Why am I reading this?” If it is to be entertained or pass the time, then there is not much problem. But myriad other reasons could apply, such as:

  • to understand a certain group of people, such as Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.
  • to crystallize your political position, such as why a given government policy should be opposed.
  • to develop an informed plan or proposal.
  • to satisfy a requirement of an academic course or other assigned reading.

Many of us have readings assigned to us, as in a school environment. Or the boss may hand us a manual and say Read the rest of this entry »

Helping Young and Old Fish Learn How To Think

– “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

– “If at this moment, you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The immediate point of the fish story is that…”

Keep reading the masterful commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace to the 2005 graduating  class at Kenyon College, published in the Wall Street Journal today:

David Foster Wallace on Life and Work (WSJ).

The whole piece makes for the most beautiful meditation, to savor word by word. The whole article is really a quote worth reading, but let me feature this one

– “Learning how to think” really means how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”

What a poetic introduction to brain and cognitive fitness: learning, think, exercise, control, conscious, aware, choose, pay attention, construct meaning, experience.

Carnival of Human Resources and Leadership

Welcome to the September 17th edition of the Carnival of Human Resources, the virtual gathering, every other week, of bloggers focused on Human Resources and Leadership topics.

Let’s imagine all participants in a conference room, conducting a lively Q&A brown-bag lunch discussion.

Q: Can you teach Leadership in a classroom?
– Wally: Not really. Neither the person who aspires to become a leader nor HR departments should see leadership development as an activity to be outsourced to a classroom setting. Leadership is a lifelong apprentice trade, led by the learner himself/ herself. The most HR departments can do is to architect the right set of experiences to enable/ accelerate that development.

Q: Can you teach Social Intelligence in a classroom?
– Jon: According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, not really. Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis say that “our brains engage in an emotional tango, a dance of feelings”. And you learn Tango by, well, dancing Tango. Goleman and Boyatzis add that “Leading effectively is about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need.”

Q: Can you provide an example of applying social intelligence in the workplace, and training on-the-job?
– Suzanne: Sure. Learn to appreciate your front line employees. They are the ones who interact with customers every day – which some companies seem to ignore at their peril.
– Denise: another oneWhat can you do when your team falls apart while you’re gone?.

Q: How can you generate positive feelings, when sometimes we get stuck in bad news and constant quarter-by-quarter pressures?
– Anna: Adding much needed perspective. Please note: Read the rest of this entry »

To Think or to Blink?

(Editor’s Note: Should Hamlet be living with us now and reading bestsellers, he might be wondering: To Blink or not to Blink? To Think or not to Think? We are pleased to present, as part of our ongoing Author Speaks Series, an article by Blind SpotsMadeleine Van Hecke, author of Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things. In it, she offers the “on the other hand” to Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink argument.)

To Think or to Blink?

– By Madeleine Van Hecke, PhD

Is thoughtful reflection necessarily better than hasty judgments?

Not according to Malcolm Gladwell who argued in his best-selling book, Blink, that the decisions people make in a blink are often not only just as accurate, but MORE accurate, than the conclusions they draw after painstaking analysis.

So, should we blink, or think?

When we make judgments based on a thin slice of time  a few minutes talking with someone in a speed dating situation, for example are our judgments really as accurate as when we analyze endless reams of data?

Read the rest of this entry »

Try Thinking and Learning Without Working Memory

 

 

Imagine dialing a phone number by having to look up each digit one at a time in the phone book. Normally, you look up the number and remember all seven digits long enough to get it dialed. Even with one digit at a time, you would have to remember each digit long enough to get it dialed. What if your brain could not even do that! We call this kind of remembering, “working memory,” because that is what the brain works with. Working memory is critical to everyday living.

Read the rest of this entry »

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