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How To Read Critically

Updated on November 9, 2013

A Complex Unit: The Brain

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Do You Read Uncritically When You Read Text?

A lot of people believe that if they read something and just get it inside their mind, they've learned something and need not learn more about the particular text they've just read.

For most people, a one-time read-through may not deliver a comprehensive understanding of the material, and for those who want more comprehension, better understanding of material and concepts, there's a way to read and study that helps increase knowledge when time is taken to do so. Reading via a critical reading guideline or process can also increase how your brain retains information and how it makes information "transferrable" to work with other learned ideas. Memory recall, bridging or surpassing some learning disorders, and a lot more benefits exist for those willing to take a little extra time and put effort into critical reading methods.

Let's just call the kind/manner of reading mentioned at the very start of this hub, "plain reading," just to set it apart from the points on "critical reading" I will make below.

Plain Reading vs Critical Reading

With plain reading, one usually approaches a text (let's use the Bible just for an example) with intent to pass through the text and basically see what the text/author(s) says.

With critical reading, one usually is looking for patterns, points of view, and takes preliminary steps before reading the actual text. These preliminary steps are to find out author points of view, some biographical details of the author to help determine possible world view and points of view of the author, etc.

With plain reading, when one comes across details in the text that are difficult to understand, usually the solution seems to be simply to re-read a passage or to just skip a part or journey onward through the text, regardless.

With critical reading, one who becomes 'stumped' or delayed at any point can often find clues to meaning from the author's world view and point of view if these details have been deternmined beforehand. Other clues may exist in any information gleaned during preliminary stages before a person actually began reading the text.

In the case of Scriptures - it's helpful to know what culture/authors are believed to be responsible for certain portions of text. When one becomes bogged down in something complex or difficult to understand in Scriptures, plain reading styles may not offer solutions that lead to better understanding.

With critical reading methods, when reading Scriptures, the background knowledge of culture/author, possible world view and point of view of the author can help one understand details to a great degree. Sometimes just knowing that, say, a certain portion of the Scriptures is attributed to a certain author will give a reader clues by which to judge interpretations of text passages.

Perhaps The Bible is too complex a work to use as an example here, but I wanted to mention a text set that most people are universally aware of and know the basic connotations of.

In any case - these are just light examples to illustrate some differences between plain and critical reading.

Reading Critically

Understanding The Format/Book

An important preliminary step before reading, if you want to do critical reading, is to examine the format of your text, book, document, etc. I will use the example of a book just for brevity's sake here but make modifications if you're needing to examine an eBook, large text document, lengthy magazine or journal article, etc.

Understand the book before you beging reading the text. Check the inside cover to where the publishing information is. It helps, sometimes, to know when, where, by whom the book was published...sometimes this tells you something about worldview and perspective later on in your learning/reading. Sometimes not, but it's not difficult to find this information, only takes a minute or a few seconds to do, may come in handy later, and it's a good habit to get into finding this sort of information for future readings of, well, almost anything.

Does the book have a dedication and/or foreword article? (there may be pertinent information in this section about the author, the editor who put this volume of pages together, etc).

How many pages, beyond any foreword or extra pages does the book contain? Usually this is from a first chapter, to the last page of text.

Is there an editorial blurb at the end, any kind of editor/author commenting in a special section at the end? If there is and you're very interested in discovering points about the author, world view, points of view, READ THIS PART before you start reading the 'meat' of the text. There may be an author's note here at the end of the book which tells, in the author's own words, the intended meanings and perspective, the author's reason for writing this text, etc.

Is the book set out in chapter format with headings, numbers, or are chapter lengths marked in some other way?

Look at the Table of Contents if there is one in your book. Read the entire Table of Contents and determine if there are any themes detectable just from the Table of Contents. In some author works, the Table of Contents actually sets off some of the "mood" of a book, particularly for novel writers.

Flip through to each page/headline or chapter page recorded on the Table of Contents. Determine if there are graphics that are important, differences in lettering, headings, etc. These might be important or enhance mood, understanding later on or they may actually be statements of something pertaining to the entire book, portions of the book, each chapter, as in a sort of "motto per chapter" sort of thing. Really, the Table of Contents and Chapter Naming, graphics, letter/font changes and such are actually 'played with' and 'greatly manipulated' by some authors, publishers and editors, and some can be very interesting "statements" on their own. (also - if you find the editor/author has been elaborate in any way with these parts of the book/text, you can usually expect a lot of inflections of meaning, tropes, metaphors, double-intent in symbols within the actual text, The author may have an extremem knowledge of rhetoric, poetics, etc and may display things in places most people do not look).

Now if you do have the ability to detect some paleographic-bibliographic details of the book, and you're doing a serious study of some sort which requires incorporation of where and when a particular text and book/collection was compiled, printed, scribed, etc - here's a good time to take note of paleo-details such as to understand the bindings (is it glued together, stiched, clamped, combination?), substance of the cover (cardboard, wood, leather, etc) the book is written on (is it paper or vellum? thick sheets or thin). Most people won't need these details but some will, so for those who are concerned with printing, compilation dates, paleographic and bibliographic information, a thorough examination of the object of the book/scroll or volume/collection is best done before trying to figure out the content within the text inside.

Preliminary Skimming - All Content

Up to this point, most people have probably never done any sort of "critical examination" before delving into the act of reading a book or document. If the ideas so far have seemed to complicated and you're not interested in the finer points above, please do attempt the "skimming" part in this portion of the article. It will provide you with "memory triggers" for recalling the layout of textbooks, novels, articles and documents, etc., and is less technical than the previous suggestions. It's mostly a matter of having your eyes skim as much content as possible BEFORE you attempt a thorough reading.

It will probably be suprising to you how much "stuff" your brain will automatically do for you. A lot of subconscious things will be done between your eyes and brain that will be helpful at a later date for recall of structure in textbooks, novels, articles and documents. By doing the skimming, your brain will get sort of a subconscious idea of how to "label" the information you read, how to set up places in your brain for holding information - usually in a much more organized way than when you just start reading and hope your brain puts info where you can later recall it...


Start at the back of the book and work to the front and just flip pages, allowing your eyes to skim quickly on each page. Only spend about 2-5 seconds on each page. (Yes, I know if it's a BIG textbook with many pages - or a long novel, this will take a long is WORTH THE EFFORT, in my experience). Pause just for 1 extra second on page headings, chapter headings or titles...if there are full page pictures, you can flip the page immediately without bothering to let your eyes trail down the page because your brain will register the picture extremely quickly - you might want to just glance at the page number on any full page picture or page with very large photos. For diagrams or graphs, do spend the customary few seconds letting your eyes take in the diagram/graph.

* Time Sensitive Tip: Because textbooks DO TAKE a significant of time to run through this skimming process, I often use an alternative method which seems to accomplish the "skim the entire text" results. If I am required to examine an entire chapter or up to 3 chapters, I go to the end of the chapter that is past my required reading and start the backwards skimming there - thus cutting the overall process and time spend in pre-reading stage. This gives my brain a chance to know what is AFTER the spot where I finish up - which prompts my brain to understand that there is more information beyond my required reading. Once a pick up on further required reading a week or so later, the expectation is that my brain uses the same organizational areas and plans when I immerse myself in the same text again. It seems to help me with recall and I try to never skip these pre-reading, skimming and other examinations, particularly when I am required to study large historical pieces, theology text, philosophy, etc.

Back to the skimming...once you've gone from back to front, spending a few seconds on each page, take a rest for a bit. When you return to your text, book or document, skim from front to back in the same way...

That's it...

It takes pre-planning so you'll have time available for this step, but fast skimming usually turns out to be something helpful in the long fact, if you learn how to do this and start this activity as a general practice, you will get much faster with your skimming and your brain will start to work better with organizing the things you read overall.

Skimming in More Depth: This is actually a first read through of content. If you have a full textbook or novel to read, don't attempt to do this part on the entire book...take large chunks, probably chapter or 10-page length at a time and do a basic reading of the material.

This is simple - but you might be stopped up by text you consider difficult or you might feel prompted to stop at certain points and take notes...DON"T... just read through a full section entirely and let your brain absorb what it can on a first read-through.

A second reading is where you can take notes but you might find you have less questions you thought were important than during the first pass - likely because your brain synthesized and classified information for you in a way that made sense one you managed to finish reading an overall large portion of text.

Before a third critical examination of text (where you'll read for clarity, with the hopes that your questions posed are answered or where difficulties that arose in understanding before are going to be cleared up by your more thorough understanding of the text by this point) here's where to take into consideration points on author bio, author intent, style and format of the writing, arguments within the piece you're examining, etc.

By the time you get through, there should be no questions you cannot provide a reasoned response for concerning the text you've been examining with great attention and with multiple methods. If a question is asked that cannot be answered from the information provided in the text, you should also be able to pick up on this as well as provide proofs for your views that the question cannot be answered based on the material in the text.

* Note - a lot of questions do not find good answers as a counterpart but when many people are not thinking critically or haven't read information critically, they'll attempt to provide an answer for a question where the answer doesn't truly exist. POINTING OUT how a particular text does not answer a question is a proper response to certain questions in many cases. Also, many people try to project a viewpoint on to a text and provide an answer to questions that are difficult - but the text doesn't really support such a response. This is basically misinterpretation of text and can turn out a lot of invalid statements in response to questions.

Basically, after reading a text/piece very thoroughly and UNDERSTANDING a text, you should have an opinion of your own on the author's arguments and viewpoints and you should also fully understand what the author's arguements and basic world view is, even if these differ from your own.

Responses to questions are absolutely acceptable if they start with:

  • Although the author says (proper explanation of what the author says), but I don't agree because, based on my understanding (explain and give valid reasons for not agreeing with the author).
  • I see the answer to that question in a different way than the author, based on my understanding of (give valid reasons and sources for where your viewpoint comes from)

Unacceptable responses to questions you don't feel are answered by an author/text:

  • The author is totally wrong. It is this way....(expressing your viewpoint without backing it up)
  • The author is wrong because he/she wrote the text hundreds of years ago, so here's how people should think about the text/author. (the author is not wrong in most cases, according to the knowledge at their disposal in their time. Neither are people from our past stupid just because they lacked computers and certain technological advantages we now have.

The point of all the pre-examination and of the critical, close reading of texts is so that you can get to a point whereby you can treat all kinds of arguments for and against the messages in the text - with valid statements and with respect.

Extracting Information From Text

Below is a checklist for you that might help you stay focused or get focused so you can extract the pertinent details out of a text. It's basically in the form of questions. If you read these questions before entering the text with a critical reading objective, often your brain will prompt you when you're at reading points where these questions are being answered:

  • who wrote what you're reading?
  • when was it written - when was it published?
  • can you suggest who the intended audience or are you not quite sure about this?
  • is the document/text practical? (tells how to do something)
  • is the text persuasive?
  • is the text theoretical, explaining the validity of something or explaining why the text was necessarily written?
  • what is the outline?
  • is the piece a long, continual linear argument?
  • or is it set apart in themes?
  • what are the recurring keywords, what are the primary concepts?
  • are there special ways the author is using terminology?
  • what is the foremost question this document tries to resolve or answer?
  • what are the primary and secondary or sub-set questions in the text?

Interpretation and Conclusions:

  • what are the most important sentences and paragraphs? can you tell that the author holds certain assumptions? what has the author assumed? what are the recurring keywords, what are the primary concepts? are there special ways the author is using terminology? does the author present a solution?
  • if there were more than one of two problems or questions the author was trying to answer, take note of the several issues and determine what the author's solutions are for each. take note of problems the author has not solved.
  • If you've understood the text, on your part, you now have to make a critical choice about the material and the author's point of view.
  • Here is where you must either agree with the author or disagree. You may agree with some points and disagree with other points
  • but agreement and disagreement can't be lightly performed as a "like or dislike" situation here.

About agreement, disagreement and personal opinion:

Knowledge is composed of opinions that can be defended. Personal opinion is unsupported judgment. These differences must be understood/supported by your being able to provide reasons for analytical judgments. This means that if you disagree, you must do so rationally and with respect to the author, context, etc. If the text is an older piece, remember that people from an earlier time frame than ours were not stupid... if our technology is more abundant and efficient in our time, this means little as far as "intelligence" goes - so if you disagree with points in a text, don't argue in a condescending manner.

THESE ARE THE (ONLY) GROUNDS FOR CRITICISM, Particularly for historical texts:

  • the author's argument is uninformed. (piece of knowledge lacking)
  • the author's argument is misinformed (false knowledge present)
  • the author's argument is illogical (incomplete, does not follow from the reasons given, inconsistent)
  • the author's analysis is incomplete (author hasn't solved/provided solutions or answers to the questions raised in the text)

Critical Reading, Reading Heuristic


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    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 5 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey gmwilliams. Glad you found this hub useful... many of my hubs AREN'T useful at all haha. Thanks for voting up.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is an excellent hub. When one reads a text or article, it is of paramount importance to read the context of the author in question in addition to formulating one's own individual contextual analysis therein. Voted up and useful!

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 5 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hi Chuks. Glad you found the hub interesting. Maybe the critical reading/active reading concepts will help with your sleepiness when reading once you put the techniques into effect. If your mind is more actively engaged with the material you're reading, you might not get such a strong feeling of sleepiness. Maybe you try to read too big a chunk of book/too many pages per sitting and overload your brain. A lot of people get sleepy while reading - for many reasons. Maybe another person reading will post a suggestion.....

    • profile image

      Chuks 5 years ago

      Thanks man. I have found this hub so so interestin to read. Am a kind of person that dosn't faster and all that but with this step am going apply them all. And time when reading i always found my self fall asleep? What's the cause and a way out

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Did you mean "folklore" and "mythology," cant tell you? Perhaps I am having trouble with spelling?

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide


    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hah! What broken glasses? I did not see Henry's broken glasses on the 2nd and 3rd viewing of the vid! lol Thx for the chat and fun, Henry... err - wingedcentaur.


    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 7 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Yes indeed, mythbuster. Yes indeeed! His glasses getting broke.... I found it somewhat heartbreaking! Well, glad you found the episode -- hope you liked it. I guess you did.

      Well, see you around.

      Take it easy.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey wingedcentaur - thx for the link. I actually did find it (I have an acct at stagevu and it was on-site) already and watched the episode. I am watching parts of this again from your link, anyway - 'cos I like it so much! lol Man, poor Henry - that wife of his! Yikes.

      I also now have a picture in my mind of wingedcentaur going out for supper at a fancy restaurant and not giving the menu back, trying to ask for extra ketchup - to read the French side of the label, etc lol j/k.

      Honestly, I am watching this vid right now - but am going to stop it just a few minutes before the end - while Henry still has his glasses intact! That's how I want the story to end... heaven... "Time Enough At Last" for Henry to read, read, read - and nobody around to bother him. End of story - this seems heavenly to me :)

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 7 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!


      Here's a link to the episode if you haven't found it yet.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hello wingedcentaur! Thanks for your detailed comments - very much appreciated. You've mentioned a Twilight Zone episode I do not recall but I am now prompted to find it, view it, and understand more about you, according to your self-identification of Burgess Meredith's character in that episode.

      I'm glad you've found this hub useful - but moreso - that you've recognized you've already be implementing many reading skills that assist critical thinking - even before getting to this hub.

      Let me know if, as you implement more of these reading tips, you start to retain more information from the books you read. I find I understand content much better, once I finish with a book, if I am using the skills mentioned here.

      I'll get back to you/comment here after I find and view the Twilight Zone episode you've mentioned (excellent - you've given me a wonderful excuse to watch something with the late Burgess Meredith in it!).

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 7 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day mythbuster

      First let me say thank you for this hub. I voted it up for useful, awesome, and beautiful (Yes, beautiful). Having been inspired by the thrust of this hub I also took the time to read all of the comments, as well as your responses, following the essay itself -- rather enlightening.

      I find myself in agreement with Sage Williams. I had done the skimming techniques habitually, without realizing I had been doing something useful. You see, I have almost always had a love for reading. Our public library was one of my favorite places as a young lad (still is).

      I would go in there, look around, and tingle a bit from anticipation of all that knowledge and beauty waiting for me.... I was a little like the Burgess Meredith character in the Twilight Zone episode [You know the one? The one in which, after a nuclear attack, and he hides in the bank vault -- he is the last man on Earth, saved from despair because now he will have all the time he needs and wants to read.... before he accidentally breaks his glasses].

      I would pick up a book, look at the cover, thumb through it, skip around. The overwhelming feeling was anticipation... I was excited about the knowledge I was going to get. Still, I always thought it was my lack of discipline, I was being somewhat lazy, I thought -- not quite "crazy" as Sage Williams puts it; of course I understand that SW doesn't mean CRAZY!

      I did not know I was doing something positive for my brain with respect to setting up compartments for storing certain kinds of information. I used to have the problem of reading a non-fiction book and being convinced by it, then I would read something else expressing another opinion and being convinced by that... and on and on it would go.

      I think one impediment to critical reading, in America, is our indoctrination to defer to the expert class, the "talking heads," or "chattering classes," as I believe they're called in Britain. I think we are led to believe that if someone has published a book, a certain amount of true intellectual force has gone into it, the idea, I think, being that a publisher wouldn't have published it if it wasn't intellectually valid.

      But, as you say, mythbuster, this is precisely why it is useful to know something about the publisher, editor, and intellectual organizations that might be "sponsoring" the work, to get an idea about the worldview of the author. So, in critiquing the book, one is also critiquing a worldview.

      Good job!

      Take it easy.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Susan, thx for stopping by. Sorry for responding to your comment so late. I know I've read it here a few times but not sure why I didn't respond before now lol. Glad you thought the hub had some good tips. Thx for reading.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting and educative read. I have the tendency to always skip the Editorial Blurb but will no longer do that after reading the advice/tips in your Hub.


    • susanlang profile image

      susanlang 7 years ago

      Wow..was a real powerful and detailed hub. Lots of wise and useful tips you give us here. A writer with class. keep writing, I'm reading!

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey Sage Williams, thanks a bunch for your nice comments. I thought people would be super bored with this hub but a lot of people are dropping by to comment. I'm glad you're already using some of these or similar techniques from before you landed on the hub. It seems like a lot of work to do this checklist but it's worth it - and after a while some of the points become easy to remember or automatic.

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 7 years ago

      What a terrific hub. I hope I beat someone to the recommendation in the suggest another hubber's hub. There is a ton of information to take in so I am bookmarking this one for sure.

      I am one who has struggled with comprehension and the meaning of words to this day so even writing hubs is challenging for me. Little did I know that I am already using several of the methods that you suggest as critical reading.

      Whenever buying a book, I do exactly all the things you talk about. I always thought I was nuts, in doing this. Reading front cover, back cover, endorsements, chapter titles, back to front etc.

      So I guess I am somewhat a critical reader. Got a few of the techniques done.

      Excellent hub, Rated UP! and will recommend if no one else already has.


    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Awe, kimberlyslyrics - and here I was just gettin' set to go back to writing "creepy pasta" tales and spooky urban legends - stuff about weird, scary crypto-creatures 'cos I face consequences (my head hurts and gets spinning, too) for writing serious hubs like THIS ONE now and then!

      But now you've shown up and 2 thumbed a serious topic.

      Oh - what the heck? I'm still going to go write some creepy pasta stuff lol! If you want something easier on the brain and less lengthy, check out something more along the lines of "The Clown Statue" or "The Jigsaw Puzzle." Those hub articles are definitely SHORTER - although don't read them at night, okay? Or when you're alone. Or if you've got a clown-phobia. Or if you live alone. Or if you live in a big, spacious house. Or if you do a lot of Jigsaw Puzzles by yourself... k?

      Thanks for your nice comments.


    • profile image

      kimberlyslyrics 7 years ago


      your content is always either provocative, intriguing, inspiring, thought provoking or like here so well written and informative.

      but help myth my head is spinning, I'm just not this smart to absorb this much information at once. in all honesty I do have severe ADD so I am off to read it again

      which means 2 thumbs up for you.

      thank you


    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hello tonymac04 - I'm glad you found the things on this hub useful. I try to carry a similar checklist around to anywhere I am going to be studying, if I go to the library, public speaking practice, (obviously) lectures. I have ways to "tweak" the list for different topics of study when necessary, too - for instance, if studying Scriptures, I put together a checklist on extra considerations for the fact that some material is "literal" in Scriptures and some is "narrative" and figurative. Then I can be sure to read twice and extract different aspects out of a piece of Scripture literature and examine it thoroughly. Reading poetry critically differs for me as compared with a history document, a philosophy argument or a speech transcript, etc., so I make adjustments with the critical reading checklist.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey blake4d, thanks for sharing your personal story about your teensmarts and your teen years. I'm impressed with your political/feminist ideas from your teen years. Ohyeah, of course - glad you got laid that summer, too :)

      No, I'm not a teacher (the most oft-asked question people ask me about what do I wanna be (not when but) if I ever grow up - "are you going to teach?" and "what are you going to teach?"

      Ummm nothing, actually - unless it's through discourse and discussion - 'cos I'm a poor student who ran out of money before I attained my degree. But I haven't quit studying yet and I don't think I will, either.

      I'm glad you dealt with your abusive stepdad and got your poem published! I have this stuff from this hub in my journals, too...I write a guide into each subject 'study' journal I keep so I always have this checklist handy!

      I'll be heading over to your hubs soon to see what you've been up to - and I do so much appreciate the pieces of your personal story here and your encouraging comments!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Very clearly laid out and written. Thanks for these very useful guidelines and tips. I already use some but will develop some of those that I don't. Bookmarked.

      Love and peace


    • blake4d profile image

      Blake Ford Hall 7 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

      Back in high school I had an English teacher who really left a mark on me as a writer and a human being, his name was Mr. Whotton. He read a midterm paper I wrote as an example to the entire student body at a student body function, as an example of excellence in critical thinking. At the time I was still rather shy and withdrawn as a teen ager. He really showed me how far ahead I was compared to many of my peers intellectually, and made me realize not to be afraid of it. And not to let people hold me back from my potential as a writer and whatever else I should aspire to be in life...

      Your hub reminds me of his grasp of wriiting and thinking, the paper he read before the student body was a critical evaluation I did of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. I argued that the tragic flaw of the Cesars as a poltical and governing body was the lack of women in the superior structure and influence on the government...I basically wrote ten pages proving that had the Romans had a Greco Feminist revolution during their time, Julius Ceasar would have been a better Ruler, and likely would not have been assassinated. I also argued this point with the following Casears all the way to Nero and the fall of Rome part one.

      I was only sixteen, and my poltiics have probably changed. But I'll tell you what, every girl in my school that day looked at me different when he announced that this pro Feminism Anti Roman manifesto had bee written by shy Blake who was always in the library during lunchtime. I got laid that summer, I told my abusive stepdad to f**k off, and also got my first poem published with the National Poets Society and got an honoroary award from the Presidential Poet Lauriet that year, I believe it was still Maya Angelo at that time under Bush the first.

      My point MB, you write like an english professor, I knew you were an high IQ brainy freak on the prowl for the new and the weird like me. But really, if this is your half assed attempt at teaching critical thinking and reading skills, maybe you should be educating the next generation somewhere. Like f**king Oxford!

      Or maybe you already have been a teacher, and are now retired. Hmmm...I apply nearly 3/4 of the techniques you suggested and will have to return to this hub to copy paste some info into my private journals for further evaluation. You schooled me big bad mythbuster brown.

      It don't happen often, so breath that s**t in...

      Knowledge is power, and power is f**king cool.

      Keep on Hubba Hubba Hubbing


    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thanks, dahoglund! Great info you've offered here. I've done a speed-reading course, too and found I was very surprised with the retention of information during spead-reading exercises. This is a skill I aim to get back to practicing - and it does, like you said, require some keeping up with - come conscious effort. I've mostly lapsed out of speed-reading and back into the 'back-checking' of words I think I'm missing, and I 'go back' several times per page...but it's just slowing my reading and comprehension down, I think.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      It was a long time ago when efficient reading was a bit of a fad. The course included skimming which is good for researching certain items.The brain just focuses on certain words and phrases and picks them out so one can cover a lot of stuff. Now this is often done with a word search on the computer instead. We were given a couple of sessions of the sort of thing the military does to identify aircraft, by flashing different images for very short times. A large part of it is practice and concentration. We read slow and poorly because our minds wander.They gave us comprehension test to show that fast readers actually retain more information than slow readers do, since fast reading forces concentration. I read one of Edna Ferber's novels in an hour. Also reading against the clock was used.In a psychology course it was demonstrated that the mind tends to fill in words and information--say, blank out every fifth word and usually you can still understand the text. People have a tendency to keep going back to read a word they think they missed.For a variety of reasons I have not kept up with it and one should constantly practice the techniques.

      If it interests you, there are several courses on video tape(and probably DVD by now) available. One is by Bill Cosby. I recall we had it in our training center at work.

      I'm sure theories and methods have changed since I was exposed to it.

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      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey dahoglund - your comments are always so positive - thanks for stopping by and reading. I modified a special checklist my university professors (history/philosophy/theology) gave me a couple of years ago to put this on my hub. I have a different version elsewhere online with proper credits to my professors but this version here also includes special tips I added for "poetics" (the note about NOT reading author bio details into readings of poetry and artistic-creative based prose). I would go to a whole course or mini-course on "Efficient Reading" if it ever became available in my area because I think there are a lot more "tactics" for reading critically than I've managed to place here. And people have different learning styles, too. The skimming, 1st and 2nd reading methods are for my style of learning because I have "recall" troubles with some types of technical literature - however - the tips work for anyone who takes the extra time doing the methods. I'd be interested in hearing anything additional about "Efficient Reading" if you remember anything significant that I've overlooked here!

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      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Oh, you know I L U 2, BJBension but we can't have any secrets from your husband now... lol I'm glad you find this hub helpful. And, yes, there's a lot of instructions here. I was worried I put too much 'bossy' looking stuff here on the hub but for some readings, critical thinking is crucial. Let me know how these tips work for you. If you're really diligent a few times with this whole list of "actions" for critical reading, some things will become second-nature and quite easy to do all the time.

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      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      This was a good reminder for me plus a few new tips. back in college I took a course called "Efficient Reading." It differed from "speed reading" in that a variety of techniques were included besides just fast reading. One thing was to adapt our reading to the type of material and the purpose of it; recreation, study, research or whatever.

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      BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

      Ho, I just love you. Don't tell my husband.LOL. I was just talking about this subject with Raven. This was a very good Hub today and I hope a lot of people read it. By the way I haven't gotten back to "Q" yet. Because I want to read it when I have lots of time to spend on it. When I can think about all you wrote.

      Please keep up the good work.

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      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      The only time I've found the same background checking like you've mentioned, Maita - to be a hindrance is in studying literature like poetry or certain kinds of 'artistic creative' writing where it's important not to read too much of an author's biographical background into a poem or prose. I am glad you also read critically and ask questions about culture, interpretation, motives of the author, when you're reading. What's your favorite portion of Scriptures, Maita?

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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      When I read about a book I am very critical like I check the background of the author, motives, the words used -- what it means to my culture, interpretation and I question it iny mind, I read the bible and I cant get to see the logic, but I believe in HIM<

      thats me hehe, take care myth, Maita

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      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thank goodness the first comment is positive here! lol Thanks, HappyHer. A lot of people have come to me and asked me about methods for critical reading and when I tell them what I do (same as on the hub), they freak out and say I'm being nit-picky and they'll never get through a text if they do all the preliminary stuff. It's not for all reading, of course, but going through these steps a few times helps the brain practice picking out pertinent info, too - for other reading. I hope you'll try some of the suggestions and keep track of whether or not you start to have better memory recall and things like that. That's what I've found with these methods - better recall, better ease with picking out arguments and main points of a text, better ease in picking out flawed arguments or inconclusive statements - or just plain bad arguments.

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      Tracy Morrow 7 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      This is wonderful information, thank you. I do tons of all different types of reading and I will be keeping these tips in mind.