Revolutionize Your Reading: Critical Reading for Personal Transformation | Charlie Strong | Skillshare

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Revolutionize Your Reading: Critical Reading for Personal Transformation

teacher avatar Charlie Strong

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (48m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Introduction

    • 3. The Value of Reading Critically

    • 4. What to Read

    • 5. Acquiring Things to Read

    • 6. Pre-Reading

    • 7. How to Read Critically

    • 8. Remembering What You've Read

    • 9. Conclusion

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About This Class

Change the way you read, change your life for the better! Learn why and how to revolutionize your reading.

In this course, author, researcher, and professor Charlie Strong teaches you how to read critically. You’ll learn how to:

  • Transform yourself through reading
  • Actively read
  • Remember what you’ve read
  • Improve your vocabulary, complex thinking skills, empathy, perception, and more!

From the value of reading printed works over pixels on screens to the non-obvious activities needed to engage with and recall what you’ve read, this class will guide you from cover to cover.

Perfect for creatives who want to ground their practice in theory or history, students who want to improve their study habits, professionals who want to supercharge their research, those who desire to know, and anyone looking for positive personal transformation!

Meet Your Teacher

Hi! I'm Charlie.

I earned my Ph.D. in philosophy in 2018. My research focused on problems in social ontology. Social ontology in the investigation into the nature of the entities and relations that make up the social world.

 I developed a theoretical architecture to combine what we know about the mind, unconscious and conscious, and what we know about the social world, very broadly understood. I’m interested in societies hang together not only in terms of how individuals relate not only to groups but also our how society and culture are bound up with places and things. I love synthesizing previously unconnected frameworks and bodies of knowledge. In effect, I’m an expert on culture and human social behavior.

 I'm also an experienced instructor.... See full profile

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1. Trailer: Do you feel like you don't get that much out of reading? Or do you feel like you've neglected the skill? Wants to get away from your phone or computer and engage in a positive, transformative practice that helps you to know more about yourself, others and the world. And this course is for you. Hi, I'm Charlie strong and the PhD, a teacher, an author, and entrepreneur, and above all else, a reader. It's no secret that most people don't read very much and those that do don't always read the most challenging material, we're used the best reading processes and practices. In this course, I'll show you how to revolutionize your reading. You'll learn about the value of reading, what to read, how to pre-reading advanced reading practices and effective strategies for remembering you've read, forget speed reading. The real value of books and essays and other written materials comes from deep reading, active reading, critical reading. Let me show you how join me as you teach you to master the art of reading. Thank you for joining the class. Let's get started. 2. Introduction: There's a skill that can transform the way you see and understand yourself, others and the world. I'm talking about the skill of reading critically on Charlie's strong. I'm a researcher, professor and author. My life has been changed and continues to be shaped by reading. I maintain a deep, sustained, joyful and transformative engagement with the written word. I want to share my reading process with you so that you too can enjoy these benefits. In the lessons that follow, I want to teach you the art of reading critically. I went to revolutionize the way you read. Reading is obviously a skill. Most people assume either you possess it or you don't. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reading skills come in degrees. And this course can help you to improve your reading ability. If you ever feel like you really want to know about a subject or topic, but find that Google or YouTube searches only provides superficial information. Or if you read all the time, they can't recall the details from the last book you've read. Or if you want to shift from reading as mindless entertainment to reading as something more akin to intellectual weight training. Then this course is for you. As we move along, I'll show you how to master the art of reading critically, as well as recall what you've read. Other benefits include burnishing your vocabulary, honing your complex thinking skills, and increasing the pleasure of reading. In short, you'll improve yourself and enrich your world. If you're listening to this lesson than you probably already know how to read. At least in a, in a sense. Yet 24% of American adults haven't read a book in the past year. According to one world-renowned linguist, many adults The United States struggled to read things that are more complex than the New York Times or a young adult novel. This represents a reading level that is well beneath what human beings are capable of and not at the level needed to unlock the transformative power of deep, difficult, end or joyful reading. In this short class, I won't teach you how to speed read, and I won't tell you how to talk with confidence about books you've never read. Those skills seem to be in demand but are not particularly valuable. Rather, I want to take you from an average reader, tuned, advanced, critical and active reader. I want to give you a new set of tools for reading that can transform how you process information, research, learn, and remember, using the printed word as your guide. Reading critically is a skill. And so reading critically, like all skills, can be learned. Yet in order to get the most out of this course and to unlock the art of reading, you'll need to practice. That is, you will need to read in a way that may be new to you. And at first, this will seem time-consuming and cumbersome. But with practice, it will become not only easier, but much, much more rewarding. Reading critically is essential for college students, professionals, researchers, creatives went to ground their practice in theory or history. People who want to learn about or seriously engaged with some other field or topic, or anyone feeling the urge to escape from the intellectual wasteland in which they might find themselves is anyone who wants to nourish their soul. Instead of wasting their limited lifespan. Mindlessly consuming lousy cliches and empty bromides. Reading critically can be an end in itself. And reading critically is a form of education. And the philosopher John Dewey said quote, Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself. Education therefore is a process of living and not preparation for future living. End quote. We might say then that you should read critically. If you want to live fully. You'll find course activities such as my list of suggested works with which to begin and some written notes, as well as checklists. All of the texts I have suggested have had a profound effect on me, and I hope they do the same for you. The magic of these texts, these books and essays, like all good pieces of writing, is not in the page, nor is it in the reader. It emerges from the rapport between the two. For this report to be successful, you must actively and critically engage with the readings. Let's jump right in. 3. The Value of Reading Critically: There are many valuable outcomes to learn the art of reading critically. In this lesson, I'll quickly survey what they are. First, a word about learning in general. While there are a number of theories of learning, taking a quick look at one of the classic models will help us to understand how critical reading and lifelong learning relate to one another. Soviet psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, is most well known for his theory of the zone of proximal development. The basic idea is that if a given task is too easy for an individual, they will learn nothing. If it's too hard, the middle also learn nothing. The goal then is for individuals and educators to aim for learning activities that match the zone of proximal development between too easy and too hard. We can understand this using an analogy. If you play tennis against someone who is much worse than you, you will not improve your game. If you play tennis against professional player, you will be destroyed. And you will also not improve your game. However, if you play against someone who is slightly better than you, your tennis skills will develop. The same principle applies more or less to all learning. When you engage in the art of reading, you will want to read things that are neither too easy nor too hard. Like Goldilocks, you want to select texts that are just right for you. And obviously this will vary by individual selecting readings that fall inside your zone of proximal development and provide a number of outcomes. First, you will improve your vocabulary. The more you expose yourself to new words, the more your vocabulary will increase. Second, you will improve your complex thinking and critical reasoning skills. Simple syntax and crystal clear language are often virtues when it comes to writing and readability. However, sometimes complex ideas, events, and situations can only be understood in somewhat complex forms. Exposing yourself to this sort of linguistic and conceptual complexity will improve your ability to think and understand. Studies indicate that if we continue to learn new and challenging things late in life, we can even stave off dementia and other indignities that befall us as we age. So that's an added benefit. Another great benefit of learning to read critically is the pleasure that comes with understanding. Not only the pleasure of learning a new idea or reading a beautiful passage, but also the pleasure of seeing connections between ideas, events, authors, and world. Don't think of books and essays as totally isolated islands of meaning. They are in fact interconnected. Seeing connections between authors and ideas, as well as between what you read and what you experience will unlock higher forms of pleasure. By higher, I simply mean that these are pleasures which are more intellectual, and pleasures that required training to appreciate and enjoy forth. The art of reading can help you become more empathetic. Fiction can help us step outside of ourselves and see the world from the perspective of another. Sociology can help us understand the non individual reasons for various forms of action. Reading history can help us understand our shared present and the way in which the past informs behaviors and choices happening right now, the list goes on, but you get the point. The Art of reading allows us to break with our own ego and our narrow first-person perspective that we have on the world. Fifth, the art of reading Congrats you more freedom. Now, this one might be hard to convince you of. The idea is this. Freedom means autonomy. To be autonomous is to govern yourself rather than rely upon or defer to others. Think for yourself, judge for yourself, and act in ways that you've thought about and decided. By transforming ourselves through serious reading, we cultivate the ability to truly think and freely act. Finally, if you want to understand some things, someone, some topic or some event for the sake of writing about it, or simply knowing about it. Then reading critically will be essential if we read a lot, but we don't read critically than most of the information we encounter will pass through us like a sieve. And we're armed with the tools to read critically. We can collect, analyze, synthesize, systematize, and recall what we've encountered. We build up a robust background knowledge of the world of letters. Most of all, serious engagement with serious books and essays opens us up to higher levels of discourse. More profound questions, and much more sophisticated possible answers than we often encounter in ordinary life or ordinary forms of reading, such as journalism or Pulp Fiction. All of these takeaways at up to a valuable and long-lasting transformative process. Here, I separated some of the values of reading critically for the sake of explanation. But in practice, they are always braided together. Of course, the positive transformation that comes from learning and applying the art of reading critically, like all worthwhile endeavors, takes time. Remember to be patient and keep going and you feel frustrated. Okay, so now we know what we can get out of reading critically. But what should we be reading? In the next lesson, I'll offer some general advice on this topic. 4. What to Read: Before we begin to talk about what you will want to read, we ought to broach the subject of medium or format. Today, many people read on their tablet or e-reader device. Despite the virtues of these machines, I believe that you should stick to reading the printed word. There are a number of reasons for this. First, studies have shown that we retain information better when we read on paper. Second, in order to read actively. And there will be much more about what I mean by that in just a bit. You will need to be able to mark up your reading material. True? You can annotate on a tablet or e-reader, but I'm unconvinced that these digital features work best for reading critically. Certainly it's nice for a medical or law student to save them from carrying around giant tones, but it's sub-par for deep thoughtful reading. Finally, there are benefits derived from the materiality of books and other printed material. I don't just mean the look and the feel, which I love. What I mean is that having these objects in your home or apartment sets up an ecology where the contents of these works are within reach and even act as reminders. So we've narrowed it down to the printed page as opposed to pixels on the screen. What sort of other choices must be made? If you want to understand another culture or get a better sense of your own, you might turn to anthropology, interested in understanding the way that the past is sedimented and informs our present. Then turned to history. Do you yearn to ask questions which really mattered human beings, but which aren't really allowed in everyday conversations. Then checkout philosophy. If you want a transcended aesthetic experience that lets you see the world from another's perspective. Perhaps literature is to cure. The list goes on. But remember, don't reach for what is easy. Grabbed something that's good. So should you read things that are highbrow or lowbrow? New and fashionable or old classics? Long or short? What about genre? Does the art of reading apply differently to fiction and non-fiction? Let's take these one at a time. Highbrow or lowbrow works both have a lot of value, but I recommend you start training yourself with highbrow readings. An example of highbrow text would be something by Franz Fanon, Angela Davis, and Carson James C. Scott, or Herman Melville. A low-brow work would be something by an authors such as Ken Follett, JK Rowling, or Dan Brown and hate, there's nothing wrong with blow grab books. Nothing wrong at all. Just fleshing out the distinction here. But highbrow books are often more difficult and most people are not equipped with a reading skills to immediately understand or enjoyed them. Though. And I want to stress this. Everyone. Everyone. Is fully capable of doing so. And low-brow works can still be enjoyed. I simply recommend you not make them you're only or exclusive source of reading. Once you master the art of reading, you can get in on the secret pleasures of highbrow works. Once you're comfortable with highbrow reading and difficult works, you can return to lowbrow readings with new appreciation and added depth. But just because something is highbrow doesn't necessarily mean it's good. And that takes us to the next dilemma. Should you read contemporary works or classics? At least when you're starting off on your reading journey, you ought to become familiar with the classics of a field or period. There's a lot of debate about what the great works are, which should be taught and which are overrated. This is a good and healthy process. Classics in one century don't always survive to the next. However, many do. In a way, reading classic works means reading and experts shortlist of essentials. As a finite human being, you can't read everything. Reading classics narrows down the list. As Henry David Thoreau said, quote, read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all and quote. Moreover, as you will soon discover, the history of the written word is like a giant, ongoing conversation. To recognize and appreciate what is being said. It helps to know the key interlocutors. That is, the people mostly dead who were speaking or to whom others are responding. For example, if you're unfamiliar with the writings of Plato or the Bible, you will miss many references. A Moz's interpolations, critiques, and conversations that other authors are having with these works. Even now, the art of reading is about seeing more than what is explicitly laid out before your eyes. The classic skin depth. And when you come around to newer works, enriches them and allows you to appreciate their contributions against the backdrop of history from which they have emerged. To be literate is to be fluent in the history of ideas. Allan Bloom, famous man of letters and best-selling author of the book, the closing of the American Mind, with plenty of gusto and a little bit of hyperbole, once wrote that quote, men may live more truly and fully in reading Plato or Shakespeare than at any other time. Because then they are participating in essential being and are forgetting their accidental lives. The fact that this kind of humanity exists or existed, and that we can somehow touch it with the tips of our outstretched fingers, makes our imperfect humanity, which we can no longer bear tolerable. And quote, Such a remark may be a little too much, but bloom is certainly onto something about how our choice of what to read influences this sort of experience we were able to have with it. Revolutionizing the way we read involves in part rethinking what we pick up in the first place. We must read classic works not because they're classic, but because they provide insight and offer discussions at a uniquely high level. Titles, The tend to feature prominently at the front table of airport bookstores, or the display window at the local Barnes and Noble, or the intellectual equivalent of fast food. Of course, there are exceptions, but those are exceptions that prove the rule. They might help to pass the time or offer the appearance of insight, but they don't cultivate your spirit, nor do they expand and enrich your world. Fashionable and new and superficial books are a kind of thin rule. St. Augustan used the phrase sober intoxication to describe the joy he derived from great reading, it's highly unlikely that one can attain a state of sober intoxication or meaningful personal transformation from any of the books on the current top 20 list. Revolutionizing your reading begins by reading challenging great books with care. It should involve engagement with works that let you participate with human civilization and culture. Consider this analogy. No one has ever become ripped with muscle without lifting heavy things repeatedly. No one has ever become a great skier. By sticking to the beginners Hill. Nobody comes to run marathons by taking a bunch of walks around the neighborhood. Why should anyone expect deep, durable, joyful, personal transformations by reading pedestrian, average and easy books? Another question arises. Should you read things that are long or short? The answer is that it doesn't matter. Don't get bogged down by analysis paralysis around length, quality, difficulty and profundity do not correspond to a word count. The short poems of Catullus or Sappho are just as valuable as Joyce's Ulysses or Preuss, very long in search of lost time. Should you read fiction or nonfiction and develop your reading skills? The answer is that not only does it not matter, frankly, the distinction itself is shaky. Sometimes fiction, especially the novel, can tell us more about people than the supposed truth. And other times we forget that nonfiction does not present the world exactly as it is. Rather, authors make choices about what to include, how to contextualize it, and the order of presentation. Now that we know what to read. In the following lesson, I'll share my tips for acquiring good reading material. 5. Acquiring Things to Read: Okay, so you know a bit about why you should learn the art of reading critically and what you should read. But you might still be curious about the best way of acquiring the actual texts themselves. This might seem obvious, but I'm not sure it is. In this lesson, we will address the question of where to get your hands on reading materials. First, I want to stress that libraries are wonderful institutions that are, at least in the United States, increasingly underfunded and under threat. That said, if you're going to really read a book, you're going to want to acquire your own copy rather than borrow one from the library. If you're simply looking for literary entertainment than by all means borrow. But if you want to engage in a serious way with the written word, you should probably buy the book. The key issue with buying books is whether to go for new books or use books, especially with so many kind of charming old bookstores around. But I think this one is pretty easy. You want to get new books. If not new, then limit yourself to use books that are classified as like new. Active reading requires clean, unmarked pages to begin. Used books are often filled with notes, underlines, and highlights that not only distract, but can even mislead. Buying new books isn't about making sure that cover is shiny. It's about making sure the pages are clean so that you can mark them up with your own notes. Reading critically is not limited to books. There are brilliant essays. You might also want to take a look at the best place to start to look for essays is obviously online. And many essays can be found for free there. If an essay you want is behind a paywall and you don't want to shell out and ridiculous prices to publishers. Check to see if you can access databases using your local library card. If that doesn't work. If that doesn't work, try searching for the essay again, but this time add dot PDF to the search field. If all else fails, see if you can't get a friend or relative who is connected to a university to download the essay for you. Most of all, I recommend that you print out whatever you plan to read. Now let's jump into the nuts and bolts of reading critically, or at least pre-reading, which is a kind of Reading and an important step in the critical reading process. 6. Pre-Reading: Before you simply dive into your book or essay, you should do a little pre-reading. This will help you situate the text and even anticipate some of its key elements. The first thing I do when reading a non-fiction book or essay is to check the bibliography or works cited. This lets me know where the author is coming from and what other authors they are engaging with. The more you come to master a discipline or discourse, the more legible your findings from this step will become. This is also a great place to look for other sources on your topic or theme. The bibliography is kind of like a recipe. It won't tell you everything about the final dish, but you'll have a rough sense of what went into its creation. Other telltale signs can be gleaned from your pre-reading. You will want to take note of the publishing house and evaluate its prestige. Better publishers tend to have more rigorous editorial processes and standards. Better publishers often, but not always, mean better books. You'll want to survey and assess endorsements or blurbs on the book itself as well. And finally, you'll want to examine the table of contents in order to know a bit more about the itinerary of the journey you're embarking on. That about does it for pre-reading. Next up, let's take a look at how to read critically, head-on. 7. How to Read Critically : If you're listening to this lesson, then you've probably lost yourself in a book before. It's a great escape. Losing yourself in reading can be a wonderful source of entertainment. And it's frankly, a great way to take a vacation from yourself and your normal experiences. You should never give that up. But reading critically is a matter of flexing a different intellectual muscle altogether. It requires you to be active and engage with great literature. You can switch back and forth between entertaining and critical reading. You can read the book once for pure pleasure and return to it again with a critical eye to figure out how it works. Really scrutinize what it is and what's going on. Okay, enough with the warnings, let's get to the critical reading. First. You're going to need a tool in addition to whatever it is you want to read. That tool is a pen or pencil. If you'd like to. You can get fancy and also use a ruler or some other kind of straight edge. I'll explain what that's for in just a moment. The first thing you wanna do when reading critically is to approach the text with a bit of distance, so to speak. Instead of losing yourself in the reading or the text, you gotta always keep one eye open for key bits of information and opportunities for evaluation of what's in front of you. Most of all, don't let your eyes glaze over. You know, in fact, one way to think about it is you need to learn. Learn to think about your thinking and get a bit of distance between yourself and what you're reading and trying to remain vigilant in this process. So a fancy name for thinking about thinking is metacognition. You need to engage in meta cognition. Look for connections between what you're reading and what you already know. Abstract from the word or passage and ask what the argument just or idea is. Ask what sort of appeals are being used, what sort of evidence is being presented? What sort of story you're being sold. Ask if it's right or true or persuasive as why or why not. In the most general sense, when you read a passage that strikes you or seems important or foolish, or simply notable, then you should stop an underline that passage. Maybe even add a little note in the margin about what's going on and why you flagged it. As an aside, some people choose to just note the passage in the margin itself, so no underlines or anything else. A kind of austere style of active reading. And that's fine too. You can make the process around. But when it comes to underlining, I find that not only will it help you find the passage later, it will also help you remember the passage itself. If you want to keep your underlines clean, you can use a straight edge or ruler to guide your pen or pencil. In addition to underlining things that move you or otherwise seem worthwhile, you're going to want to keep an eye out for key terms and their definitions. And this one's far more important than it seems. You know, for example, if you're reading a book like Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, You want to underline and note what system one and system two thinking are and refer to. If you're engrossed in a book by Robert Caro's such as The Power Broker, which I highly recommend. You'll want to underline and note terms like honest graft, which come up time and time again. Or if you're reading imagined communities, a real classic by Benedict Anderson, you're going want to underline or in some way note the eponymous term, imagined communities when you come across it. I usually underlying definitions of key terms and write def, short for definition in the margin. This helps me to remember how the author is using the term, which may be very specific just to that author of that work. So it helps me remember that term and be able to find it as I read along. And it makes it easy to find that definition again in the future. In addition to marking down or noting key terms or concepts, you'll want to use the same process to take note of key events, people and other crucial details. Also note, and this is important. The relationships between terms, events, people, and other significant information. So when you're reading, it's not just this or that bit, but also how they form a hole. If so, what else does active reading involve? Well, unlike reading for pure pleasure or as a mere means to some other immediate end, reading actively. And the distance that comes with it will involve stopping to analyze and evaluate what you've just read. For example, if you're reading philosophy or something persuasive, you might want to ask yourself, what is the problem being identified? And do I agree with this or that premise or basic statement? And as you can probably tell, the answer to this question will often depend in a major way on how certain terms or key words and concepts are being used. Which is why noting these elements are so important in the first place. So not only will you want to evaluate sentences, you'll also want to evaluate larger arguments, metaphors, images, and so on. This is especially important when it comes to arguments. You'll want to mark out or plot all the steps in an argument in order to scrutinize it or perhaps even recreate it later. Remember, an argument is a chain of relationships between statements that flow in a single direction and end in a conclusion. When you're reading an op ed or a, an essay or a book, don't jump just to the conclusion and ask, do I agree with that or not? Really, take a minute to look at what are the steps that lead up to that conclusion and makes sure that the steps taken. Makes sense, follow from one another and they don't, they don't make any crazy or outrageous jumps and reasoning between steps. Above all else, don't blindly accept everything you read. Though it's best to be charitable with the author you're reading. Okay? And so being charitable in this context, it's simply means assuming that the author is probably smart and thought about what they wrote at least a little bit before they started writing it. In addition to the scrutinizing passages and chunks, larger things like arguments, you're going to want to take an even bigger step back from time to time. And ask what the book or essay is about as a whole. To judge a command of the big picture, you may want to test your ability to briefly summarize the core of the text in ordinary language so jargon free. Yeah, can you do that in less than a minute? Can you do it in 30 seconds? And could you describe the book or essay to a friend who has never read it? Is the overall picture that's being presented true? And also ask as you're kinda doing this big picture, look at what it is you're reading. What are the flaws or blind spots and what the authors talking about or discussing are arguing. And also note what are the strengths and insights. Simply paying attention to terms, sentences, arguments, and larger chunks of texts is good. But you also want to be sure to mark up the margins of the texts that correspond to what you're discovering your reading journey. If you're reading critically, you're going to want to write all over your book with notes, reminders, signposts, and more. In order to mark and remember to be able to locate key terms, important passages, essential arguments, and other takeaways. And of course, good creative, make the process of marking up your reading your own. You could use a color-coded system or develop your own shorthand. There's no one right way. I usually don't engage in the practice. Many of my fellow readers like to take notes about what they're reading as they're reading it in a separate notebook or on a computer document. This may have its merits for certain tasks and it might work well for you. But I tried to keep all of my brief notes and marks within the book itself. This one comes down to personal preference. One practice I do engage in is the writing of small summaries of key points, facts, figures, theses, and the like at the end of each chapter. So in essence, I make my own mini Spark Notes, mini summary at the end of every chapter. The art of reading is more like the work of the explorers Lewis and Clark, than it is like a hiker out for a walk in the woods. In other words, you need to catalog, map, evaluate, and note what you discover. Not simply let the words and ideas float by and a mode of immersive autopilot would reading casually, we might come across words we don't know and simply skim over them. When you read actively and critically, you should look up words. Now that we all have smartphones, this task is a breeze. Don't just look at the meaning of the word on its own. Look at the etymology or origins of the word as well, come to appreciate the nuances of different word choices. Also pay attention to what is outside of the page and beyond the letter of the text. Look for symbols, connections with other works and ideas and similarities to other authors. With fiction, you will want to take note of where the story is coming from, who the characters are, where they are, what's going on in the world, when the story takes place or when it was written and so on. In most cases, reading critically is like having a conversation with great thinkers and artists, most of whom are well dead and not to get too dark. But as the philosopher Descartes put it, quote, the reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest people of the past centuries. End quote. If you don't read critically, than it ceases to be a conversation and becomes a monologue that takes place while you sit in silence and largely forget that what you just experienced, which brings us to the next lesson on how to retain what you've read. 8. Remembering What You've Read: Especially as we age, we find that we can barely remember some of the things we've read. Perhaps we've read War and Peace by Tolstoy, but can only recall that there was a one-point, a big battle at a place we think might be called Borodino, or we've read in a bulk hubs, autobiographies speak memory. But all we can remember is that the author grew up trilingual and fabulously wealthy. What's the point of carefully and critically reading? If what we scrutinize leaves our minds almost as soon as it enters. Forgetting is a natural and normal and often very, very good process. But there are all sorts of tips and tricks to help us recall the things we really want to remember. In a sense, the strategies I'll talk about in this lesson are a series of messages and notes to your forgetful future self. The first trick of recollection hinges on having printed material to read. As we've discussed in previous lessons, when you make marginal notes and underline important passages, you alter the physical world so that you can spark the psychological notion of recall in the future. The book you've read actively in critically has been altered in such a way that it now includes a new layer of information that can be used to quickly reorient yourself to what you've read in the past and enables you to swiftly find important details. As an aside, your notes in the text, as well as other changes to the physical world that aid memory can be thought of in terms of the extended mind thesis. This thesis holds that when we use things outside of our brains and bodies to perform a cognitive task such as remembering than the stuff outside of us is when it is used. So just for that time, part of our minds. In other words, the mind is not limited by skin and skull. When you note a definition in the margin of your book so that you can easily find it. You are, in a sense, altering and improving your mind. You're enhancing your ability to perform memory tasks that you simply couldn't otherwise pull off. This thesis has its detractors, but we're not interested in covalent ontological distinctions. We just want to know what works and these strategies work. Okay, back to the lesson proper. So when I finish a book, I immediately set to work doing a few things to make the most my ability to recall what I've read. The first thing I do, go through and find essential passages and definitions that I may want to return to it some undefined point in time. I pick out the best of the best from what I've marked up and underlied. I then take out a small sticky note, right? A few words about the passage and place the sticky note on the page so that it peaks out just a little bit when the book is closed. This extra step has saved me countless hours over the years, especially when writing my doctoral dissertation. My feeble brain bound memory can recall perhaps the book I need or maybe the author. And the sticky notes in page markings guide me the rest of the way. Another great way to remember what you've read is to write up a brief little summary of the whole by drawing on the chapter summaries you've created along the way, assuming that you have. This is particularly important if you're reading for a research project or part of a larger interest, I often write a one-to-five paragraph summary of a work and then save it to my computer. Many times. This barely requires more effort than transcribing existing notes and a few quotes or other details. The act of summarizing itself helps to encode the memory of what the book is about. And we end up with a nice document that we can always drawn if needed. For my own private usage. I also transcribe, that is, I type out 15 to 30 or so of the absolutely most essential quotations from the book and save them as a document on my computer. That way, if I need to be reminded of a key passage, and especially if I want to use a chunk of the text for a piece of writing or a presentation. It's always very easy to do so even on the go, be sure to include page numbers as well as some bibliographic information such as the title of the book, the author or the publisher, the year. And I want to add that keeping the books we've read around us isn't just a fun form of socially acceptable hoarding. It's also a memory aid. Another reason to buy physical copies of books is that their mere presence can help you to remember their contents. If you keep your books in your home on a bookshelf with the spines somewhat visible. You can say hello to these old friends from time to time. 9. Conclusion: This brings us to the end. Hopefully you employ some of the strategies and tactics I've outlined in this course. Next time you open a book. If you find that you don't have the time to read something, but you must get the gist out of it. You can always fall back on skimming. That is, Reading introductions, conclusions, and topic sentences. You can also read book reviews, which offer nice summaries and evaluations by someone who did take the time to read the book critically. It's my hope that you see these as lesser options and that you recognize the value of improving your direct engagement with the written word by reading critically. Picking up a good book is hard at first, but easier and more rewarding in the long term. Think of it like being at a convenience store. All the placements and marketing and packaging is nudging. You pick up the bag of chips or maybe even the healthy looking snack bar that actually has the same nutritional value as a candy bar. The best choice in such a scenario, though the harder one, is to grab a piece of fruit or something healthy. This same dynamic confronts you. Every time you pick up something to read. Make the harder choice. Choose the books that offer more than empty intellectual calories. Trans fat, sq, ideas. Being literate means that you have more sophisticated templates, better mental frameworks for making sense of the world. When you revolutionize your reading, your world will grow in breadth and depth. Quite literally, your templates for sense-making and meaning-making will improve. Not taking your reading seriously, both in terms of content and process, is like visiting a foreign country and not knowing what the signs say, what the locals are saying, what various buildings and parts of the built environment of four and so on. You can totally good-bye and manage in such a situation. But it would be a matter of just barely getting by and you wouldn't really understand most of what you see an experience. And the same is true with reading and the world at large. And I wanted to also say that, you know, when I talk about seeing the world, I really mean it, seeing it in perception is theory-laden. What that means is the, what we know literally informs what we see and can see. Sometimes he didn't are obliged to see. And the more you know, the more the world becomes legible, new forms of knowledge, open up horizons of experience. You know, as, as bell hooks said, quote, life transforming ideas always come to me through books. And bell hooks is not alone when it comes to the source of her life, life transforming ideas. I've made a number of appeals to personal transformation through deep and sustained reading in the course of this lesson, I stand by those claims. But personal transformation is not the only way you can revolutionize your reading. Carefully. Reading books with friends growing together is always better than reading books alone. On an even larger scale, we might wonder, would a city or a nation comprised of individuals who read and take their reading seriously, might be like one thing is for certain, it wouldn't be much like the communities we have now, probably be a little bit better. As a final note, keep in mind that all things in life that are excellent are also, at least for a time, difficult. Learning to play guitar, for example, when you start it sounds terrible and it hurts your fingers. That can be really discouraging learning a new language as an adult, it makes you feel stupid. I felt really done when I learn a foreign language. At least that's my experience. Learning and new digital technology can make one feel old and incompetent. That when we learn an instrument, a language, or a new technology, we find that little by little and day by day, the task becomes easier and much more rewarding. If we're learning to play the guitar are early focus on the placement of our fingers. Can go on autopilot. And that kind of frees us up to focus on reading music or improvising or even playing with other musicians. With language, we stop having to think about how to conjugate verbs before we speak. And we can really focus on what we want to say. With technology. The tools become invisible. We simply act through them to achieve our ends. The art of reading critically is like these activities. It may seem hard at first, but once you acquire the basic habits, it's pleasurable, easy, rewarding, and powerful. Just as learning an instrument or language or technology expands your scope of possible actions in the world. The skill of reading critically expands what you're capable of thinking. That about, does it. I want to thank you for learning with me, and I wish you good luck in all of your reading.