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Reading critically


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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:28 by NZTecAdmin

Reading includes the development of critical ability, which leads eventually to expertise in evaluating not only the difference between literal and implied meaning, but also a writer’s attitude or bias.

A writer may show an attitude (for example, of intolerance for tattoos and body piercings) in obvious ways “People who mutilate their bodies are just crazy,” or in ways that are not so obvious “It was hard to see the real person behind the face that had been heavily scarred with ink and metal”.

Likewise, bias can be shown as much by what a writer doesn’t say as by what is stated explicitly: an advertisement that only refers to or shows young, attractive, white, wealthy women may be implying that other women are excluded from using the product advertised.

The learning progressions in the strand Read with Understanding include the idea of thinking critically and each progression describes development from having only a limited awareness of purpose and audience to having well developed skills of reflection, analysis and evaluation. In order to read critically, adult learners need first to be able to read texts at the literal level.

For example, basic reading skills, including comprehension skills, are needed before the reader is in a position to apply a more critical eye to a text. This is not to say that critical reading has to wait for adult learners to be “ready” in some way.

All adults will be able to relate to some of the ways in which written and visual language (such as an amusing television ad, a strongly worded letter to the editor, or a clear set of instructions) is used to achieve a particular purpose and with a specific audience in mind.

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