Evergreen Learning Paths, Reading And Note-Taking

Evergreen Learning Paths, a failytale house on a path and a book
Evergreen Learning Paths

“There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul.” 

Emily Dickinson, “There is no Frigate like a Book”

Two evergreen learning paths, reading and note-taking

Among the first things we learn at school are two basic skills that will accompany and impact our entire lives. At first glance, these skills may seem unimportant because reading and note-taking are fundamental in any educational system.

The interest in these two lifelong skills can predict how well one will do with learning in the future. Reading a good book is an immersion in other worlds created by great minds that otherwise we would get to know. Surreally, we will walk these evergreen paths as long as we are able to do so.

How does reading influence the brain?

In the last years, neurosciences made a lot of progress in unlocking how our brain works. But, with all science’s breakthroughs, our brain still remains a surprising, complex and mysterious thinking machine. Even if reading is a basic learned skill, it has a strong influence on our upbringing and brain development.

Scientists are continually disclosing the implications of reading skills on our brains. They have succeeded in identifying the brain regions implicated while reading. Research shows brain changes that occur while reading.  However, according to several scientific findings regarding children’s reading skills, most structural brain changes while we learn to read remain still unknown.

Neuroscience studies established that the left part of the brain is associated with language processing, speech and reading. While reading four regions are activated and these are visual, phonological, semantic and syntactical cortex. As we read all four of them are working together to create neural pathways. Each part of the brain has a role in linking written words with letters, sounds and their meaning.

Also, studies are showing that skilled readers have on average better health and higher levels of income. More importantly, they reveal that reading more in adolescence directly influences our capability to become proficient readers. So, the more interest you have in reading different books, the more chances there are to become a highly skilled reader in the future.

Reading to understand vs. speed reading

We read daily all kinds of content on our devices and we are getting exposed to a lot of information. To face this amount of data, it might look like we need to increase our reading speed to assimilate more text and new inputs. We can always use technology to summarize or write, but we should try to treasure these two skills as precious gifts.

Time seems to run faster these days and reading books or any kind of content takes a lot of our time. Around the concept of speed reading, there are created learning techniques and even training to increase the speed of reading. The research shows that is not really possible to reach from 250 to 500–750 words per minute. Studies revealed that chasing performance and productivity comes with a trade-off between reading speed and accuracy.

Reading faster impacts text comprehension

Tech makes speed reading more accessible through dedicated speed reading apps and devices. Readers might embrace speed reading because of lack of time, productivity or performance reasons. But, in reality, we are facing a compromise between speed and understanding.

While reading complex mental processes are involved so we can comprehend and retain information. We parse the phrases, understand words signification and then link them together to generate new meanings. The new information acquired by reading needs time to be integrated and retained.

Most of the research shows that it’s unlikely for us to be able to increase the reading speed and still manage to understand the text as well as if we read at normal speed. So, it’s clear that reading faster impacts text comprehension. It’s up to us to decide if we want to understand what we read or if just we need to keep up with the information.

Slow reading has its advantages and the more we practice it, the easier is to become skilled in mastering communication and language. Slowing down our reading is a way to increase vocabulary and better remember what we read.  In the long run, we actually improve learning because reading is a basic lifelong skill.

Igniting positive brain activity

Researchers proved that no matter the language that we speak, while we are reading the same brain regions are active for both reading and speech. Also, some experiments show that reading literary fiction improves empathy. So, if you enjoy tragedies, you should know that by reading W. Shakespeare’s plays you can boost your brain’s activity. Writings using the functional shift linguistic technique can stimulate positive brain activity.

A study that measured brain neural activity while reading revealed that two brain networks work together for us to understand complex sentences. By reading we can access other people’s mindsets, feelings, experiences, perspectives or inner worlds. Reading might seem a trivial learning tool because it’s a lifelong skill and we read daily. It seems that we really underestimate the role of reading comprehension in the learning process of this basic skill.

Note-taking contributes to strengthening memory and reading comprehension. Whether handwritten on a notebook or typed on a device, taking notes while learning is an efficient way to improve our understanding and better retain new information. Some arguments plead for and against digitally taking notes. That should be a choice depending on our learning style and personal circumstances. Overall, taking notes it’s good for summarizing, comprehension, and concept mapping.

The spacing effect while reading

Whatever path you choose, you should consider the spacing effect in your learning and reading practice. Learning new things takes time and effort which is why most of the institutional learning is done in chunks. 

We don’t actually have the exact numbers in terms of days or weeks to guide us on how to space out the learning process. When the learning is spaced out in a timeframe, we have better chances to remember what we’ve learned. So, writing down what we learn, either by hand or on a device can reinforce our memory and comprehension.

Reading and note-taking are two lifelong future-proof learning skills. Both reading and note-taking are long-life learning skills and these learning paths will remain evergreen. They are the proof that we are actively involved and trying to make sense of our learning and most of all that we are continuously striving to find new meanings in our quests.

Enjoy your reading!