Monday, November 5, 2007

Answering Learning Process Questions

1. How did I learn more effective ways to study, to figure out what was important and how to retain information without writing it down.

I learned about study skills when I started doing tutoring at the campus study skills center. The center did a lot of work with students to teach effective study skills and while waiting for students to arrive I would look at the handouts and sit in on some sessions. When I graduated from college and started work on my first masters degree, I became the graduate assistance in one of the branch campus study skills centers and suddenly found myself teaching these same courses. I eventually started using these skills in my daily life including reading summaries and introductions to books and paragraphs, focusing in on topic sentences and ending sentences and focusing on lists and materials that showed up again and again.

With work often what I read is material that will come up in a meeting later on. I have a pretty good memory for work materials and I find if I talk to someone about the topic the material sticks even better. I even find if I've read something and it doesn't make sense, hearing people talk about the material will help me to understand and remember the material. I will write dates down and will make lists to jog my memory if I can't get something done in a timely manner or if I'm really tired or it's the end of the day when I'm at my low energy point.

2. Why do I follow text with a ruler?

Because when I normally read material I read it very quickly, sometimes so quickly that I feel like I'm not retaining material. When I read with a ruler I'm forcing myself to slow down and read and think about everything on the page.

3. Why do I read the articles with a pen and Takaki like a novel without a pen?

The articles often have materials I know I need to remember for class discussions. So I read with a pen to highlight materials I want to remember or material that relates to what I am doing at work. Often I discuss this material with my colleagues which helps me to remember it more and to tie it even more closely to work activities.

I have a hard time with Takaki because a part of me disagrees with him and wants to focus more on try to get past these historic issues and deal with what's happening in the world today. However I also know a lot of what is already in Takaki so instead of having to read to remember I read more to figure out what I should do for the class assignment. As I know a lot of Takaki already I don't feel the need to highlight anything specific in the book and items that I didn't know get discussed with my husband or with family members who also know this history.

4. How do I compare Takaki with other sources and what kinds of questions do I ask as I read Takaki? How do I find his items one sided and what do other sources say about the colonization of the Americas?

I will admit that during the first few weeks I read Takaki I wanted to throw the book away, burn it or do other horrible things to it. I found the book annoying and whiney and wished that it included both sides of immigration experience so that readers could compare and contrast and could understand what was happening as the first groups arrived in the United States. As Takaki has moved away from a "the whites are evil point of view" to a "this is the immigrant experience point of view" I've gotten more comfortable with the book.

I was fortunate to have a family that indulged my love of reading and gave me lots of diverse books that looked at the American experience in different ways. I think I am bringing forward these ideas when I read Takaki. My family and my previous instructors also encouraged me to look at both sides of an argument and I will try to find the good and bad in everything. What was going on in the English/white minds as they settled in the United States? Was everything based on saving the savages? Or were there people who believed that Indians were good and were intelligent? Why doesn't Takaki mention that in his discussions?

As a reference librarian/archivist by training I like to search for other information that answers my questions. I'm also married to an American history buff who also knows quite a bit and has a huge American history library that I can use for research. I also have a lot of learned friends. When I've talked to them about Takaki they have given their comments and encouraged me to be open-minded toward Takaki which has been easier said than done.

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