“If all of this [learning how to read critically] sounds like hard work, you’re right. Most people won’t do it. That’s what sets you apart.” Farnam Streets’ post: How to Read a Book.

Businessman reading a newspaper

For awhile now, one of the Twitter hashtags I’ve been curious about and semi-following is #lrnchat. This is a group that gets together on a Thursday evening to discuss various topics that apply to learning. A recent pre-meeting assignment included reading the post, How to Read a Book (linked above).

I found both the blog and the discussion of it on Twitter to be very thought provoking, for several reasons. My initial reaction, in reading the blog, was a personal one. As a mom of three daughters in various grades, I found myself wondering if they are learning how to read critically. Are they really building skills that allow them to create understanding and synthesize content? Oh, the dinner table conversations we can have about this!

I’ve also been thinking about how I read—not only books, but the myriad of content that I encounter daily. To be honest, most of the reading I do is inspectional—skimming and scanning for interest and to get a basic understanding. What intrigues me is when I actually see something that causes me to stop, reflect, and make connections with other ideas I’ve seen. That’s when I’ll dig in and use my analytical and comparative reading skills.

Part of the critical analysis of what we read is finding places to have deeper conversations that can make what we are learning useful to us. #lrnchat turns out to be one of those places, as it really provoked discussion of the blog in a meaningful, connected way. We have a weekly lunch meeting here at Fredrickson, where we discuss a variety of topics. Plus, one of our monthly meeting topics is a book club. Admittedly, we are still trying to make that concept work well; however, I’m always struck by the variety of new ideas, opinions and thoughts that are provoked by the conversation. I do wonder though, about what other ways we can, as learning leaders, foster this type of learning—in our work environments and in our community.

I wonder about our industry.
Do we need to help learners in our organizations use the type of analytical and comparative skills that the blog author describes in order to fully understand and use information on the job? Or is the goal more to just support inspectional skills, where our learners get just enough to be able to do the job, but not necessarily be an expert?

My belief is that, as learning leaders, we should be doing both—helping people get the information they need to do the job and encouraging them to create competency by synthesizing information and making it useful. And if we keep both these goals in mind when designing training, we can create truly transformational learning experiences.

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