Reading is thinking

Thinking is an incredible activity. Have you stopped to wonder at the constant chatter that goes on in our heads? Where does the mind go when we are listening to someone speak, or when we are reading or when we are dreaming? What’s the speed of a thought?

Our thoughts determine who we become and how we react to situations. So what is thinking? Simply put, it is our mind talking to ourselves. We usually don’t do this aloud possibly because of the nature of what we think. These thoughts are sometimes fleeting or they linger.  The fleeting thoughts don’t affect our destiny and they leave no lasting impression, but the thoughts that we choose to dwell on or meditate upon impact us for the better or worse.

The Language and Literature Department at MBIS have been inspired with what Alexander Moore, our new team member, has brought from the other side of the planet. He says, reading is thinking. Now think about that for a moment.

If reading is thinking and thinking happens when you read whether you are aware of it or not, then there must be a deliberate way to become conscious of that flow of thought and capture it. Our task then is to help train and develop the skill of thinking while reading.  The reading log tool is just such a way to over time become aware of the kinds of thoughts you have while reading so that you may capture them and use them for some form of production.

The reading log is a tool for independent training of the mind that requires time, effort, energy and deliberate self-reflection. In fact, last week at the school assembly, we heard Ms. Daisy talk of the 10,000 hours popularised by Malcolm Gladwell which looks at not only the quantity of hours but also the quality of deliberate practice and commitment over a period of time to be successful.  The systematic nature of the reading log represents exactly this type of practice.

The reading log is a long term project, and regular feedback is critical both for correcting grammatical issues and directing thinking patterns. The other side of this conceptual coin is that Writing is Revision.  This means that at each instance of writing – and this could be extended out to include any productive work in lang. and lit., such as speaking or presenting – is in essence a “seeing again” of what you have in your mind. All acts of writing represent a form of translation of what you have inside so that you may give it to others outside.

Students at the end of the term will create graphs of their proof reading marks and of their evidence of thinking codes from the semester, and these visuals give them quantifiable data about their habits of writing and patterns of thinking while engaging with texts.  Ongoing instruction is based on these patterns of thought and habits of writing.  Thus is accountability and differentiation built right into the tool and its use.

We look forward to the success of this venture, and we want our students to celebrate their moments of advancement, reflect on them and above all celebrate those small victories.

Alexander Moore and John Peter Christie