Skip to content

“Loving to read as a strategist”. Episode 15. Is reading the same as Learning?

A stunning first day of November 2022 extends its days as a gift of love from God for all of us. Hoping you can make of this month a fantastic and thankful season for your terms of endearment. Let´s get going because today we have prepared slides and a tour that wishes to explain what is this all about reading and learning.

“Japanese Temptations”.
Size: 56 cm x 38 cm
Paper Fabriano Artistico Traditional White 300GSM, Painted with Daniel Smith, Ecoline Liquid Aquarelles & Holbein pigments. 100% original by Eleonora Escalante. For sale.

Literacy and Learning.
The dynamics of learning through literacy are so ample and wild. We are currently living with a load of at least 4,000 years of written records about this process. Our ancestors invented literacy to keep a record of their lives. But literacy defined as a materialization of our language, as “the essential condition of knowing”(Halliday); was something that belonged to the elites.   Written language (and reading) was possible only for the rich and the religious leaders, and those members of the royal courts or high-caliber helpers who were close to the rulers´ circles. This situation reigned for thousands of years. To counterweight illiteracy, our response was to teach how to read and write. So, we have been problem-solving the illiteracy of the majority since around 200 years ago. It is joyful to appreciate that during the last two centuries, the world has reduced illiteracy enormously. After the enlightenment centuries, in 1820, only “12% of the people in the world could read and write, today the share has reversed: only 14% of the world population, has remained illiterate”. Over the last 65 years, the global literacy rate increased by 4% every 5 years – from 42% in 1960 to 86% in 2015” (1). What a positive celebration! Even though my soul is happy, this is just the first step in our journey to become educated. Nowadays, learning to write and read is just the most basic component in which the rest of the foundations for human prosperity and well-being (and happiness) are supported.

Of the world population older than 15 years 86% are literate. This interactive map shows how literacy rates vary between countries around the world. In many countries, more than 95% have basic literacy skills

However, there are still countries where on average more than 40% of the population can´t read/write, such as most African nations, and some other countries in Asia and the Middle East. But regardless of the triumphs of teaching basic literacy skills, and apart from those illiterate states, we are now facing a new mountain to overcome: Literacy as an important component of our learning processes is still in poor conditions. As an example, we have already discussed that around the 70% of adults from the developed economies have only reached the level of Literacy 3 (8th grade level of High-School); and less than 1% of these adults have attained the highest level of Literacy 5. Another example of a developing economy is Indonesia: More than 95% of the population can currently read and write, but their literacy levels are extremely low: one-third of adults hold below Literacy 1, another 33% is Literacy 1, and the rest barely advances to Literacy 2.   Check the OECD levels of literacy if you have forgotten what are the levels that we are writing about (2).

The conditions of learning vary with or without basic literacy skills or higher literacy competence. We learn naturally. Anyone can grasp to learn something in life, either for pleasure, for following their parents´ businesses, for competitions, or for making a living with it. And the process to learn without literacy was straightforward enough in many economies up to the first industrial revolution. It was the norm. Science as we know it, electricity, petroleum extraction, and machine innovations changed everything since then. Our mechanics and tech innovations have happened so rapidly in less than 200 years. In parallel to all these innovations, people continued to learn to do work and daily activities through observation and apprenticeships. Citizens still can learn to play instruments as virtuosos by following the method of Suzuki through their mothers´ role models and by listening to classical recordings since they are babies in their mother´s wombs.  Individuals can learn to paint by following YouTube tutorials for free. Even on Instagram, anyone can show how to cook or make up her visage without saying a word. Social media is thriving by muting the words (we are going back to a sign-ape language) but everyone is delighted, showing how to do whatever using short reels.  And all these communicating methods of teaching do not include reading. So what is the big argument for attaining reading-writing competencies for learning?.  If anyone can learn to do “certain activities” by watching, listening, copying actions, or by testing and error; then why do we need to read for learning?

Reading to learn.
During the 21st century, with the advent of the disruptive technologies agglutinated under the NAIQIs (Nanotechnologies, Artificial Intelligence (including Automation), Quantum Supremacy, and the Internet), many of the traditional premises about learning have been under scrutiny and review. Still is too soon, for Eleonora Escalante Strategy to turn the page to our learning ways of the past. Still is too early, for us, to even consider digital tools as a subject of theory, because all the initiatives tested since Y2K are for simple experiments, or pilot tests, which are still in the first stage of research.  But we can´t omit the omnipresence of the NAIQIs in our gadgets and daily living. The predominant ruling of its presumptions (NAIQIs) on Planet Earth is causing too much uncertainty in everything, including reading. By trying to force humanity to use digital tools for education (including reading), the reading to learn competence is under strike too. Sadly.

Reading as a competence for learning has been evolving naturally until the appearance of the NAIQIs in our Smartphones and tech gadgets. So, the 21st century has appeared with multiple challenges because of these NAIQI technologies.  Please refresh by reading slide 10. In consequence, we will restrict our ode to learning to how our civilization has been learning before the year 2008. We will focus on what has been around during the last 100 years or so.

Learning is a big picture that has been studied by several researchers. There are at least three theories that explain learning and are relevant enough to be considered in this publication: (a) Behaviorism, (b) Cognitive Constructivism, and (c) Social Constructivism. There are some other theories that are also interesting such as (d) Multiple Intelligences; (e) Neurophysiological or Brain-Based Theories of Learning, (f) Anthropological or Communities in Practice theories, and a new one called (g) Connectivism. Please visit Slide number 13. In each and every one of these theories, reading-learning is an essential part of learning.

Reading is an essential part of learning. Regardless of our learning method or learning style.
In episode 9, when we were deliberating about the subject “what is to read”, we figured to utilize the framework designed by Mark Sadoski (slide 8) and we added new elements to it. We also show in slide number 9 how some researchers have switched from reading to full literacy (3). Reading is a component of learning. The more sophisticated society becomes, the more important is to read and write. No matter the language. It is reading and writing that help us to elevate our learning demands, needs, and wants. It is by reading-writing that we are able to fulfill our huge brain competencies of reflection, discernment, critical thinking, and creative extrapolation. Reaching higher levels of literacy (linked to education) helps us to live in harmony as members of society. We have prepared a summary of 9 elements that need to be considered when we are trying to define learning. See slide number 14. 

 Illustrative and non-commercial image. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Source: Microsoft Public Photos Library

Learning styles have an impact on our learning experience.
There are several models that have been invented by several known authors and experts in the matter of learning. The Honey-Mumford model offers a view on how to categorize learners into four types: activists, reflectors, theorists, and pragmatists. See slide number 15. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) also has added its contribution by classifying learners into Visual, Auditory, and Kin-aesthetic. See slide number 16.  The VARK system designed by Fleming in the year 2001, includes reading as a learning style too. Refer to slide 17, please.  Meanwhile, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) tool is also utilized to categorize learning styles up to 16 different combinations of personality. The details about these identifiers are on slide 18. Another double-dimension framework is Kolb´s Learning Style Model, which is described in slide 19.  The Felder-Silverman learning style model shows us 5 levels of opposite continuums that can help teachers to offer a balance of learning activities to comply with all the types of learners that may gather in the classrooms (see slide 20). Finally, Gardner and Hatch (1990) have compiled the multiple intelligences model of learning that is utilized in several entities: From the boldly kinesthetic, to the musical, to the logical-mathematical, the interpersonal, the intrapersonal, the linguistic, the spatial and the naturalistic intelligence, there is a specific preferred way of learning. Refer to slide 21, please.  We wanted to describe these relevant frameworks, but if we have missed one, be sure that there could be much more on the queue in the future. For those models that will come, or that are being adapted, or which are under review.

Is reading the same as learning?
After reviewing carefully all our reading inspiration and third-party academic production that has been brilliantly executed by so many experts about reading and learning, we took the risk to create a new answer to this question. 

So here we go. Is reading the same as learning? It depends. Reading is a component of learning. We can learn from reading, of course, otherwise, I couldn´t be here doing this job. Reading is learning if there is a genuine connection between the author of the text and the reader. This connection is more than what Effie Maclellan has defined as reading: an “active process of meaning construction to which the reader brings his or her own contribution”(4).  This connection between the author´s text and the reader can be attained if the content of the text (what was written by the author), the approach of the text (how it was written by the author and received by the reader); the disposition  (who wrote the text-the author); the addressee of the text (for whom it was written);  the time of the text (when it was written and when it was received); where it was written; and the context in which the experience of writing and reading the text occurs.

While reading, if that connection materializes truly, it is well possible to comprehend beyond the words and the text. And only then, learning takes place. Reading can trigger learning when there is a fit of profound understanding between the author and the reader.  And when that fitting happens, or the matching arises appropriately, that is when we really begin learning by reading.  

Reading is the most irrevocable and profound way of learning. Reading obliges one to interact in a complex dialogue individually and personally with the author. We do not talk directly to the author, even if we read aloud what he or she writes. The conversation occurs in the mind of the readers while we read.  By reading, our brains are stimulated to relate to the author who has written what we read. As readers, we can transport ourselves to 300 years ago, or we can fly in our imagination to the year 2,200. If as readers, we are able to connect with the author, then and only then, we are able to catch and decipher the exact message from the writer. Still, as readers, we are able to decide by our own will, if we want to learn from the author or not. Once we understand the author in his/her exact message as he or she wrote it, then, we begin to learn.    That is why reading well (literacy level 5) is not easy. Attaining a high level of literacy is a serious task that requires the inner intention and willpower of each person to accomplish it. It comes from the inside out. It requires an imaginative competence beyond what you see. It is inside of our mind that we do the job of learning by reading. It is not a video or audio. It is in our ideation where we are conversing fictionally with the author, it is in our imagination where we ask and answer, where we go back and forth, where we look for other references, and where we make the job. It is in our minds. So, it is not easy. That is why reading at the Literacy 5 level is difficult. It is more problematic or demanding for those who did not want to love to read in their formative years (K-12 or university). If we did not see reading as an important value or significance for our life, but only as a concern of passing school or university with a good grade… then it is reasonable that we are not in love with reading, and it is hard for learning when you don´t treasure to read.

Reading a text is not the same as reading an author.
Reading involves an emotion, an affective dimension of understanding beyond the text, but the author. That is why all of us who are learning to write adequately, are required to do it with the best of our personal styles, so the minds of our readers, can talk with us in their imagination. Authors matter, because they are not texts, they are humans as the readers.

If reading to learn would be easier…

Announcement: Next Friday. we will explore the subject “The reading brain of the kids”. Thank you.

 Illustrative and non-commercial image. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

Strategic Music Section.

Music Reading chill-outs

What to do when you find readers who read fast but do not comprehend what they read? We will begin to explore several terms that will help us to answer this question. Let´s begin with what does it mean to read fluently? According to Tim Rasinski (5), the three key elements of reading fluency are accuracy in word decoding, automaticity in recognizing words, and appropriate use of prosody or meaningful oral expression while reading. These three components are a gateway to comprehension. See what is reading fluency in the diagram. We will begin understanding it in the following chapters. For the time being, we only want you to know that reading fluently is a multidimensional concept.  If comprehension for learning is the goal of reading, it is good that we explore these elements in detail. See you next Friday!

Our music for reading today is a relaxing scenery. Enchanting Autumn Forests for you. Enjoy!

See you next Friday 4th of November, with the sixteenth episode of the saga “Loving to read as a strategist: The reading brain of the kids”. Thank you for reading to me.

“Loving to Read as a Strategist”. Illustrative and non-commercial image. Giphy source from Nazaret Escobedo

Sources of reference are utilized today.

References used in the slides are included in each slide. References from this text as follow:

  3. Frankel, K.; Becker, B; Rowe, M.; and Pearson, P. “What is reading to what is literacy”. The source of Education. Vol. 196. No. 3 October 2016. Pp 7-17

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  All are used as Illustrative and non-commercial images. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Nevertheless, most of this blog’s pictures, images, or videos are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

Episode 15th total amount of words: 2,715.
Reading time: 14 minutes

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s