Daniel T. Willingham, PhD, is not afraid to be boring

The section Allocate Significant Time to Reading, from Chapter 5 How to Read Difficult Books states, “It’s difficult to read texts on complex topics written by authors who are not afraid to bore their audience” (p. 101). Three pages into this chapter, I quickly realized D. T. Willingham is no scaredy cat. I read the words on the page, amazed Willingham could stretch a relatively simple idea like “give yourself enough time to do your reading” into four pages of text. This is not a controversial stance that requires an elaborate argument. Yet Willingham dissects this concept (if you would call the statement Allocate Significant Time to Reading a concept. Isn’t that just a logical thing we all implicitly agree on?) until you feel your eyes begin to bleed.

However, I cannot only complain about this book. I realize that as we head off to university in a couple of years, Willingham’s revelations (okay, that was a little sarcastic) might benefit us. The most significant tip for me was, before you start reading, think about what you are going to learn. To get a hint of this, flip through the pages to get a sense of what the chapter is about. Make an outline with possible headings for your reading notes. Other learning points included; try to stay awake as you read dry material, place post-it’s on pages ahead of your reading to serve as little reminders that your mind alive, do not just highlight information that seems important, but keep notes as you read, and do not rely on end of chapter summaries and boldface text to give you the essential information. (This essential information can all be found in the boldface text and “in a sentence” summaries at the end of each reading strategy tip). 

I look forward to attaining enlightenment reading Chapter 6, How to Study for Exams. I wonder if Willingham will suggest revolutionary techniques such as; gain a deep understanding of concepts, rather than just surface memorization; create complete study notes; and overall, Allocate Significant Time to Studying to avoid last-minute cramming. Ground breaking!

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