Reading the Book

One of the things I always do as an instructor is read the book. This seems obvious, right? It isn’t always obvious. It’s not always done. Sometimes, as a student, I’ve purchased books for courses only to realize that I was only taught from an antique notepad the instructor had shelved next to their other notes, for other classes, that had remained unchanged for the past 30 years. One of the wonderful things about education is that the knowledge is always changing. There’s always something new, whether it be in history, the arts, or science. Always, always, things are changing.

This is an interesting lesson. As a student I would always read the book at the last minute by frantically rushing through the pages of the text as quickly as I could. Oftentimes I would read entire pages without paying attention. This was clearly not the best type of reading. Even when I did actually sit down to read the texts I rarely had an in-depth understanding of them. My knowledge was of the surface. I knew only the most general information about what I had read.

Reading like a teacher (and AS a teacher) is a completely different type of reading. Let me give you an example. As an instructor for a course I typically read the book at least twice: once while planning the class and a second time along with the students. This double reading helps me in two ways. The first read through I am able to see the big picture. I can see the general structure of the book and what it is trying to accomplish. I can notice the chapter devisions and make note of important information and exercises that could fit with particular chapters. The next read through, along with my students, helps me not only delve into the specifics of the chapter itself but specifically tailor that content for those particular students. By this point in the semester I have a better understanding of who my students are and how they best learn. This allows me to teach them, specifically, the content we are all reading together. I think the system works fairly well. Do you have any tips for reading the book?

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