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How to be a critical reader
How to be a critical reader

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1.1 Thinking about your opinions

In the first activity you are going to read two short extracts and examine your opinions on the subject of the texts.

Activity 1

Task 1

Read Extracts 1 and 2 and consider to what extent you agree or disagree with the view of the authors.

Extract 1

I have been teaching full time for over thirty years. During that span of time, one sees many, many students, and it amazes me how different they have been over time, and the inequality continues to grow. Compared with the students in the 1970s, today’s students are uneducated and unfit for a college education.

(Adapted from www.joannejacobs.com/2009/02/unfit-for-a-college-education/#comments)

Extract 2

Students today do not write merely to obtain good grades. They write to shake the world. Moreover, they are writing more than any previous generation, ever, in history. Popular beliefs that Google is making us stupid and Facebook is frying our brains are totally inaccurate. New technologies are leading to the development of new ways of being literate.

(http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Bad-Student-Writing-Not-So/7853/)

Task 2

Write down your ideas on the following questions.

  • What are your thoughts or feelings about Extracts 1 and 2?
  • Do you believe, for example, that ‘Facebook is frying our brains’?
  • Do you think that technology has helped you to read and write in new ways from earlier generations?
  • What would you like to say to either writer?

Comment

There are no correct answers here. Some people have very strong opinions about this subject. Do you? Having opinions can influence the way you read. If you disagree with a writer you might find you are tempted to reject what they say without following their argument. On the other hand, if you have strong opinions in favour of what a writer says, you might accept what you read as the truth. For these reasons it is important to be aware of your own opinions as you read, and to consider whether the writer’s opinions are supported by evidence.