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Have you thought about the title of the book?
  • Calendar Jul 02, 2019
  • User Jared Wells
  • Category In Uncategorized
  • Comments 0 Comments

So, I imagine that all you eager students are getting ready to crack open that AP Biology book and get a jump start on the school year. What better way to be prepared for a challenging year ahead than by learning a lot of the material on your own this summer.

But the best way to go about teaching yourself the material is NOT to open the book, go to Chapter One, and start reading dutifully. Your objective is LEARNING, not READING. And while reading is certainly a tool you’ll need to employ, it is by no means enough. Simply moving your eyes down a page is not going to lead to learning.

So if our objective is learning, we need to figure out how to use the tool of reading to accomplish that objective. Here is a key principle of reading that we’re going to talk about how to apply to reading a textbook:

Not everything written is equally important.

If that is the case, then we’ve got two questions to answer

  1. How do I figure out what parts of the book and what ideas are the more/less important ones?
  2. Once I’ve figured out what is more/less important, how do I use that information?

Let’s start with question 1: How do I figure out what parts of the book are more/less important?

Well, if we need to know what parts of the book are the most important, we need to know what parts are in the book obviously! So we want to understand the structure of the book.

Let’s take a look at “Gardner’s Art through the Ages: a Global History", which I’m choosing because I have little knowledge of art and art history. Those of you taking AP Art History will be reading this book this year. And boy, it’s a doozy!

Let’s take a look at the title. Reading and thinking about the title of a book, a chapter, or a section takes just a moment, but the title of what you are reading contains the most impactful and valuable words you read, because the title is connected to EVERYTHING you are going to read.

By spending a few moments thinking about what the title tells us about the book, we can learn a lot about the structure and purpose of the book, which will help us make sense of the book as we read it

“Garder’s”: It’s a person, seemingly. But not the author (who seems to be Fred S. Kleiner). He or she is probably an important person. To all of art? Hmmm...we probably need to figure out who this person is!

“Art” Ok, we expect that the book is going to be about art (the class is called Art History after all). What is art, exactly? That’s a hard word (for me) to define...I know it when I see it I guess. I’ll probably want to get a really clear definition of this word, since the entire class hinges on it. (Note: you would be surprised bow many times I work with students who believe they are ready for a test, or understand a concept, when they can’t even define the concept! This should be where you start!) My guess is that the book will cover that early on, but probably I’ll seek that out in the book before I even start reading the first chapter. Where do you think I can find the definition of “art”?

“Through the Ages” I know “ages” are periods of time, like the “Middle Ages” or “Age of Industrialization” So we’ll probably be grouping art by the period of time that it was created and seeing the connections between pieces of art created in contemporaneously.

“A global”: So we’ll be looking at art from all over the world (rather than just focussing on, say, western art traditions). Sometimes, time periods are also named for a place too, like “Classical Greece” or “Feudal Japan” so maybe the book will sort things through by discreet times and places. Probably the art happening in the Roman Empire was not very similar to the art being created in Ancient China at the same time. 

“Approach” an approach is HOW we do something or look at something. So, presumably we’ll be learning not just facts about art but HOW to think about and/or look at art. Or, maybe it’s just that the author’s approach was to look at art globally.

“14th Edition” Wow, this book has been around a LONG time. Maybe this Gardner person was the original author of the book.

We haven’t even opened the book yet, but we’ve already learned a LOT about this book, and got some ideas about what the content and structure of the book might be, spending no more than a couple minutes reading and thinking about the title. Since the title presumably deals with the purpose of the entire book, that’s important! We’ve also got a couple of good questions that we definitely should try to answer.

-Who is Gardner?

-What is art?

-Are we going to be simply learning facts about art, or are we going to learn ways of thinking about and investigating art?

These are very different types of questions. How would you try to find those answers? Are we ready to dive into Chapter 1? I’ll let you attempt to answer those questions on your own until the next article!

Looking for support with study skills? Sign up for our “Study Skills” workshop this summer!

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