Are You Reading Actively or Passively?

Have you ever came across the situation where after reading a few pages of a book, you look up and think, why can't I recall what I literally just read? I've had this experience countless times, more often when I've been assigned to read something rather than reading something for my own enjoyment. As it turns out, there's a simple reason why this happens, and that's got to do with passive and active reading.

When we passively read, although we're still reading the words off the page, we aren't processing the information contained within those words. As the words pass through our mind, we fail to extract their meaning before discarding them to make space for the next batch. As a result, when asked to describe what we just read, we're often unable to do so, as there simply isn't any content to recall.

In order to learn and gain new knowledge from the material, we need to be actively reading it. This means that while reading, we need to consciously process and understand the content flowing through our minds. If we fail to grasp the content upon first reading it, stop, and re-read the sentence or paragraph until we have understood the meaning it's trying to bring across. This way, we can internalise the concepts and are able to describe it to others easily.

One of the easiest ways to promote active reading within ourselves would be to try to relate what we're reading to similar examples that we already know of. This can be our own experiences, stories from our friends, or even just news that we'd heard online.

Another technique would be to question the material, by asking ourselves questions like why and how. These questions can create the much-needed curiosity within us, driving us to find out more about the topic by reading further, making the material seem more engaging and granting us deeper insights.

With active reading, we want to form our own opinions regarding the topic of the book, shaped by the information and examples provided within the book as we read them. When we share these opinions, we can gather feedback to further refine them.

Pause now and look away. Were you able to recall what's passive vs active reading? What are some strategies to promote active reading? Do you agree with everything that I've wrote? Share your thoughts with me!