Outsmart Your Brain Reflection

Upon my completion of chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel T. Willingham, I have gained insight into improving my reading and writing skills. Specifically, skills that will allow me to improve the speed and efficiency of my reading, as well as my writing. When I receive a graded in-class essay, the same note, “Analysis must be focused; pick a specific element of the text”, is constantly scribbled in red ink. For this reason, I struggle to connect a sentence I just read, to a sentence I read five minutes ago. Willingham puts it best, “Readers often need to connect something they’re reading now to something they read a few pages ago.” This not only slows reading and becomes an obstacle to comprehension, but this mistake also inhibits the clarity of my writing. Willingham suggests the use of SQ3R, which stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. Willingham also states that research into productivity has concluded that these strategies improve both comprehension and clarity. In the first term, the DP1 class read Homer’s Odyssey. I struggled to efficiently comprehend what I read, and thus did not enjoy the text. Going forward, I will implement these strategies into my reading, in hope of greater enjoyment of future texts.

Another habit of mine that Willingham addresses is sufficient time allocated to reading. Given the workload of the IB, at times I find myself “skimming” through a text. Willingham goes on to state how skimming through a text, one which you are not entirely familiar with, will result in diminished comprehension. Going forward, I will be sure to allocate enough time to reading tasks in order to ensure understanding. Further, in combination with the five strategies mentioned above, the adoption of these techniques will enhance comprehension of unfamiliar texts. This is particularly important in this course.