Skills pay the bills

Nicole Klein, Website Editor

Although classic and modern books have many important messages that students could spend hours discussing, English classes should focus more on literary analysis skills than on the specific book itself.

Even though many students have not mastered literary analysis skills, such as finding the main idea of a passage and the evidence to support it in middle school or high school, it is barely taught in upper grades, according to a study from Vanderbilt. However, it should be. English class is only 50 minutes a day and it is important that the majority of the class is spent preparing students for higher level education. SAT and ACT tests students’ readiness for college. On these tests, the reading passages are purposely random. It is not standardized across the country to only test students on the books they have worked with in class. This is because in college and careers reading skills will need to be applied to all different subjects and texts, according to College Board. It is important to be able to really understand the books read in high school, but most important is that the skills used to understand those books are taught clearly and can be applied to any other book or text.

To be successful in college, “deep” reading and reading for pleasure are the most important things you can do, according to the American Association of University Professors. A study by sociologist Judith C. Roberts and Keith A. Roberts found that many students see “reading” as simply forcing one’s eyes to “touch” each word on the assigned pages and many students read only to finish and not to understand. Although this is the easier and faster approach, it is not as beneficial.

If one wants the positive effects of reading they most read deeply. Deep reading is interacting with the text or annotating. To be able to deep read a student must have literary analysis skills. The characteristics used to deep read, including curiosity, focus and humility, are highly valued in the workplace. It can also help develop college level reading skills. The same study found that many students admitted to not reading their assignments at all and therefore not receiving the benefits of reading. If the class focuses on skills to read passages, instead of assigning many chapters, students may be more likely to do their assignment. According to the American College Testing Program, barely half of all college graduates possess college level reading skills. Since reading is linked to increased cognitive process, not reading can negatively impact any major.

The classics and modern books do still have relevant themes. However, 20 years from now, it will be more important to have the skills to read and understand any book rather than understanding and analyzing texts like “The Odyssey.”

Reading skills can help students be successful in college because they will have the skill of knowing how to approach different texts. If they are reading for pleasure they know they can read quicker, but if they are reading a textbook or a study they must change their reading approach to be able to understand it fully.

A strong reader is not just someone who understands a handful of books really well. It is someone who can use and apply their reading skills to understand any text.