07:44 am
24 September 2023

Actively Reading

Many say that a good reading (I’m talking about informative texts) needs to include some form of critical thinking. In fact, one of the educational ideals is to form critical people. And, what is to be understood by that? Contributing to form beings capable of reflecting and dispensing judgement about the information they access and not just receive it passively.

Contrary to what the term evokes, critiquing constitutes a sample of the intelligence, the knowledge, and the sensitivity of the person who does it, and not an expression of resentment, envy, or vanity. Critiquing is not a basic cognitive skill, as are analysis, synthesis, deduction, analogy, and many others, but it is a competence, that is to say, a skill that is developed through the exercise –learned and controlled- of said ability. Understanding a text implies, then, a needed critical reading.

María Teresa Serafini (2008), in her text “How to study” (“Cómo se estudia”), states that in order to achieve critical reading, the subject needs to be able to at least consider three essential aspects: understand the author’s objectives, assess the fidelity to the sources of the writing, and distinguish facts from opinions.

On the first point, there needs to be said that for the reader, it is key to identify the author’s intention in order to know how he structures –formally and conceptually- his writing, and this can be done by means of the use of verbs such as expose, explain, denounce, convince, distort, etc. This intention can appear explicitly on the text (“The purpose of this article is…”), or, on the contrary, it can be missing, so that the reader needs to deduce or infer it. Moreover, he needs to develop the ability to detect when the “declared” objective of the author was really developed or not.

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