ERIC Number: ED167961
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Oct
Reference Count: 0
The Paradox of Text: Will the Real Meaning Please Identify Itself?
Estes, Thomas H.
The central feature of language is symbolic meaning, and the act of reading is a part of the symbolic process that characterizes human life. Meaning occurs as a result of interpretation in a context, not as a result of response or reaction. Signs have a literal meaning in a specific context, while symbols have a figurative meaning in an implicit context of metaphor. A question of principle--how does what we read mean?--and a question of practice--how can reading be made meaningful?--may be posed. Perhaps the teaching of reading comes down to making reading more interesting and less tough. Two half-truths about meaning should be dispelled: that text has a single meaning and, at the opposite extreme, that a text means anything any reader wants to claim. In fact, meaning is not "in" anything because it is not a thing but a happening or process. To make reading meaningful, teachers can involve readers in decisions about text, after facilitating the connections on which meaning is built by asking questions. Their questions should be designed to elicit divergent and creative thinking and to build the curiosity and interest that might make reading more interesting and less tough. (Illustrative discussion questions are posed about a familiar nursery rhyme.) (GT)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southwest Regional Conference of the International Reading Association (7th, Little Rock, Arkansas, October 5-7, 1978)