Saturday, January 2, 2010

Slow Reading Redux

Very interesting article on Slow Reading.

“The problem is you are thinking that to begin slow reading means to pick up a text and read it in a certain way, different from how you have been reading before, but that’s not the way it works. Slow reading doesn’t start with reading. When slow reading begins, you are already reading. You have been reading for a long time. Slow reading starts, not with reading but with slowing.

But even that is not quite right. It would be more accurate to say that slow reading starts with stopping, with turning around. In our reading habits we are like drivers who have been speeding down the highway, intent on reaching our destination, when we begin to notice that things along the side of the road don’t look quite the way we expected. At some point we begin to think that we might have misinterpreted a road sign that we passed a few kilometers back, and then suddenly the thought strikes us that we have been driving rapidly in the wrong direction! Now, as you turn your car around and start driving back to take another look at that sign, now you may find yourself in the slow reading frame of mind.”

If one could begin slow reading the first lesson would be: Just be present to the words on the page. Allow the words to simply BE there, and take note of the fact that they ARE there – BEFORE YOU DECIDE WHAT THEY MEAN.
While I'm reflecting on the New Year I wanted to mention that I've actually been doing something like this for a couple of months at least. As you know, my oldest son graduated from Thomas Aquinas College last spring, and my daughter is currently a freshman there.

Ever since I first found out about classical education I have been trying to some extent to give my kids the education I didn't have, and educate myself a bit into the bargain. It's a slow process, and recently, in conversations with my college kids, I've realized that a lot of time what is handicapping my thought process is simply a lack of the fundamentals -- ie the traditional arts or tools.

When I realized this, I thought that I have a perfect opportunity right now. I don't have babies or toddlers anymore. My daughter's a freshman at TAC. Right now, I have a bit of extra time on my hands. Why not start reading through the Thomas Aquinas curriculum?

I'm not doing it quite the way they do it, because obviously my circumstances are different. Right now I'm reading:

  • Aristotle's Categories
  • Augustine's On Christian Doctrine
  • The Vulgate (though I have a hard time making my brain focus on the Latin and often end up just reading in English).
I'm also trying to go through one devotional work at a time. Right now I'm re-reading St Francis de Sales' "Introduction to the Devout Life."

I'm reading these slowly, a bit at a time.

Of course, I have other books that I read at normal speed. But I'm trying to improve my study habits by reading these ones a bit at a time and writing notes. What helps me is making a private blog for each one. It's like an electronic notebook for each different book. It's so much easier for me to write and re-read my notes when it's all on a typed page rather than in my messy handwriting.

Thought I'd share!

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