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Introduction to Engaged Reading

Introduction to Engaged Reading

Author: Gavin McCall

This lesson teaches the meaning and purpose of engaged reading.

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Hi. Welcome to English Composition. I'm Gavin McCall. What are we going to learn today? We're going to focus on engaged reading, something we've already touched on briefly, but now we'll take a closer look. We're going to look at the purposes behind engaged reading and why it's so important for students of English or virtually any other field. Then we'll talk about the advantages of engaged treating, how practicing it can make your time in English Composition and later classes more worthwhile and hopefully more fun.

As we discussed briefly in an earlier tutorial, engaged reading is being active rather than passive in the reading of a text. There are many purposes to engaged reading. The first, and probably most important, is that engaged reading allows you to enter into a conversation with the text. What do I mean by that? Think of it this way. When you're presented with a piece of academic writing, you're being given an invitation. The writer's made his or her argument, and presented evidence to support it in whatever way he or she thought was best.

The writer's work is done. Now it's time for you, the reader, to make up your own mind. Do you agree with the writer's argument? Why or why not? Can you think of other ways this argument should have been made? Or can you think of other more important or perhaps more interesting arguments about the subject that the writer should have made?

The only way to find out is through careful, attentive, engaged reading of the text. And by doing this, you'll be practicing the critical thinking and analytical skills you'll need, both as an engaged reader of this text, and as an active, engaged, critically thinking person going through your life. Another and perhaps more down to earth purpose of engaged reading comes from the fact that in writing classes, many of the texts you'll be assigned will also serve as models for your own writing assignments, or at least as catalysts for them. So in a way, practicing engaged reading is also brainstorming, or prewriting for your own writing projects.

Take this argument, for example. I pulled it out of an article I wrote for an online news site. Take a minute to look at it, and see if you can tell what kind of argumentative writing project it might have come from. It's fairly complex sentence, but if you take the time to perform a close analysis, the thesis should become clear. Pause the video if you want more time. And don't forget, engaged reading doesn't always come easy, and it's rarely fast.

Can you tell what I was arguing for? Independent publicly-funded research, right? Or to be more particular, I was arguing against for-profit research.

So what kind of arguments or essay topics could you generate from this? I mentioned the Monsanto company specifically. You could do research into it and its competitors and develop an argument based on what you find. Or if you already have a strong opinion about the GMO issue, as it should be pretty clear I do, you could build an essay about the risks or the rewards of GMO research. You could even choose to focus on just one part of my text. If, for example, you were most interested in the first phrase and now want to explore what it means to own the legal and economic rights to an organism, well, you could do that, too.

These are all examples of the kind of analysis you might be asked to perform, and engaged reading is the only way to do it. As my example hopefully made it clear, there are many advantages to engaged reading. Let's take a moment to explore them.

First, with engaged reading, you won't have to re-read a text as often, because you were really concentrating the first time. And because you were concentrating, you most likely comprehended more of what the text was saying. In addition, engaged reading will also help you understand what the text was doing, recognizing the tricks and techniques the writer used, which paves the way for you to be able to use them, too. And finally, engaged reading helps you practice the critical thinking skills you'll need both in and out of college.

So what did we learn today? We learned about engaged reading, including the purposes and advantages to it. My name is Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me.

  • Engaged Reading

    Reading a text actively and critically.