Study Skills: The Reading Mesh

At the edges of Manhattan’s East Village are a cluster of student residence halls for New York University, more commonly known as NYU.

Drop into any coffee shop within a few blocks of these and you’ll be sure to see a scattering of students hunched over laptops and working through textbooks.

Their eyes focus, strain, and burn as they squint at the text on the page –  whether a sheet of well-worn paper or a backlit PDF imprint.

Here’s the thing.

It’s nearly always text.

Ploughing through pages, chapters, volumes.

There are a lot of good things about reading long-form content, but we’ve got to be honest with ourselves. Attention ain’t coming back.

Is reading always the best primary medium for learning a topic?

Maybe a video, game, podcast, salon, or field trip could do it better.

And even if reading works best, perhaps there are other ways of instigating it. It could be a Blinkist summary of a book, or probably better a blog post that gets straight to the one key point. No agenda to sell units by bundling the one idea in 250 supporting pages. Just one thing. Link them together, bitesize pieces. Use colour, metaphor, and movement to bring them to life.

The jobs of the teacher and the curriculum designer then become that of curators, coaches, champions, and challengers.

There’s no longer a reading list. There’s a reading mesh.

Different viewpoints, dimension, angles, approaches, conversations.

And with the rise of small b blogging across all sorts of topics, maybe it’s time for us to hit the blogs as well as the books.

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