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ERIC Number: EJ990971
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1046-3364
Reading on the Shoulders of Giants
Ben-Chaim, Michael; Riendeau, Michael
Research & Teaching in Developmental Education, v29 n1 p33-38 Fall 2012
Reflecting on his successful scientific career, Isaac Newton highlighted his intellectual debt to his predecessors. "If I have seen further," he wrote, "it was "only" by standing on the shoulders of giants." The authors have chosen the title of their article as a token of recognition of their debt to the teachings of Newton and other intellectuals whose achievements enable them to take part in the transactions of education. They have revised the quotation from Newton in order to convey their view that perhaps the greatest damage done by the neuropsychological approach to education is in the field of reading instruction. Newton managed to climb up on "the shoulders of giants" by reading their books. In schools, reading is undoubtedly the most fundamental and important means of appreciating, connecting with, and benefitting from the intellectual achievements of others. But the most common approach to reading in the contemporary k-12 school system centers on the goal of extracting, memorizing, and manipulating information from texts, as if the texts mirror the empirical facts "out there" rather than convey the aspirations, explorations, reflections, and beliefs of human authors. At Eagle Hill School in western Massachusetts, the authors are working to develop an innovative approach to reading comprehension that aims to restore literature as means to the intergenerational communication of learning. Rather than understanding reading as a skill that can be acquired in isolation and applied to learning objectives, they view reading as a practice that is inseparable from literature and literature as a cultural tradition devoted to intellectual exploration. Considered in light of this approach to reading, comprehension is a creative endeavor involving emotional engagement and rigorous textual analysis, as well as imagination. The result is reading becomes an exercise in intellectual exploration and empowerment and, at once and the same time, an act of participation in a tradition of literary achievements passed from generation to generation.
New York College Learning Skills Association. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts