I lived by the cliche “read between the lines”, usually the simple things are given, however, if you want to find gold you have to go beyond the standard and check out the gray areas. I was contended to see what is visible without even thinking or analyzing other factors not until I joined the class and realized that there are a lot of things that you will discover and will require you to critically observe.
I remember back way during my primary classes, where my English teacher will ask us to read and comprehend a story; I don’t read the entire paragraph I go directly to the questions and look for the key term or word and answer it without even analyzing the entire text. Once I found the word, that turns out to be my answer to the question. That for me the easiest way before but my perspective changed the moment I stepped in the class, study and appreciate humanities. More than it helps me, the course serves as an eye opener for me to carefully comprehend and examine what is written.
Reading, thinking and writing go hand and hand together. Three skills should be combined to come up with a great argument or judgment. A great improvement happened since I now follow steps and guides on how to comment, argue or even present ideas. I do not just read but I comprehend, I do not just think but I reflect and see both consequences and I do not just write but I present facts and information I comprehend. I read with purpose. Not just because it was assigned or I was told to do so but I look for the benefits and advantages that I will get by simply reading it.
Reading is like a ladder that you have to take the step one by one cautiously for you to reach the top. Each step is important as it may help me to generate and formulate what I have learned. It starts with the question WHY should I read this that along the way will be answered on a different level, with different forms. It can be replied through chapters, presented through charts, graphs or pies or it can also be implied through pictures and photographs. For example, a dedication is written not just to make the book thicker but it is there for a purpose.
You do not skip that because it might have a significant reason why the author wrote the text or book. Knowing and using the different parts of the book makes your reading easier and successful at the same time. Like watching a movie, you don’t what to miss the beginning since you wouldn’t know the reason why it ended like that. Critical reading is also about time management, once you familiarize yourself with the reason, the steps and the part of the book your reading will run smoothly.
One good thing about doing critical reading, it gives you the chance to re-read or go back to the page which confuses you or something that you just want to keep track of. This engages you with the text to get the most out of it. When doing critical reading, aside from the steps and the will, having a tool will be such a great help. You can use pencil or highlighter to remind you about what is written and how will it affects the whole text. You have to start asking questions as you read, ask for the author’s purpose and the content. Interpret the tone and give emotions.
Punctuation marks, choices of words and even articles become valuable to me now since the course taught me that it is placed for a reason. While climbing the ladder or taking the fist step which is reading the book you will then proceed to” critically thinking” and start asking tons of WHY and WHY NOT, WHY is it there and WHY is not included. I reflect and see both consequences. It is an advantage that you start thinking and formulating your thoughts while you are reading. Think of the methods, the process and other factors to help you understand the text.
In critical thinking, you do not just set aside the purpose. You evaluate it. Think of the information and facts to the reader. Influence the point of view or arguments. Will it be an entertainment or need to use your imagination? The course taught me to think how the information is delivered, is that chronologically, did the author use season or any time frame? Since this plays a vital part as you write your own argument. Also, it is essential to think how the problems were solved and how words or terms were defined in the next. In critical thinking, you have to use your imagination.
Start thinking outside the box and go beyond the usual. Part of critical thinking is analyzing the tone of the text or how the writer wrote his ideas. Based on tone, you will be able to easily identify the mood; you can determine if it is serious or just being sarcastic. You don’t generalize and you set aside your prejudice. As critical thinker you do not just agree on what is being said or written, you have to consider the sources. You do not just settle for what the majority or the obvious. You know how to differentiate facts from opinion.
And that a fact is something that can be verified while opinion is open for argument and debate. I present facts and information. When you write you always wanted to consider it as your masterpiece. There are a lot of forms of writing. I have to say that critical writing is more of a challenge. It differs with another form of literary pieces. Critical essay is informative; it focuses on the content rather than idea. All your work should be backed up with evidences. It doesn’t matter what you believe what is important but is what you can prove even the whole world will disagree.
Critical writing is not just about arguing it is most of time teaching your audience something new and helping them make a stand. I write not to impress, I do it to express. The course helps me realized that criticisms come with different packages with different approaches. As quoted ” If critical reading is the attention we pay to the relationship we have with language, critical writing is the attention we pay to sharing that relationship with others. ” It still has purpose. And the purpose is not to criticize but to INFORM. To attack is to defend, to defend is to express and critical writing is all about expression – facts presentation.
At the beginning, you will be bombarded with a lot of theories, concepts, ideas and arguments about reading an art, literature, film or even music. The class helps me to interpret the deeper meaning to layman’s terms, it teaches not to settle on one idea but to search for facts to support it. One of the best perspectives I have learned is to step out of my comfort zone, being comfortable with what you’re doing or consider as your habit does not guarantee contentment and success. Studying humanities widens my road in understanding one literary piece or may it be a person and its behavior.
The knowledge gives me a better way of communicating with others, understand people and take things into consideration. The concepts, ideas and perspectives that I have learned can be used to realize different interpretation of life, thus, the past creates the future. Knowing what happened in the past can make people understand the current situation. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (painting) gets a lot of different interpretation from different people from all walks of life but the way they presented their ideas may varies depending on the society they part of and the culture that they are accustom with.
In studying humanities, it helps me look at things in a dimensional way. I was able to appreciate other’s culture and love my own. It did not just end in fact it is just a beginning on how to apply whatever I have learned in the four corners of the room once I step outside and look at the bigger picture. In a society where people make prompt judgments and argue without presenting ideas, it is important to combine the principles, concepts and formulas and uses it in a daily basis.
Having a grasp of information about humanities will significantly help everyone to be aware of each other’s feeling. It is proven that thinking critically serves as a useful tool that you can use as you go along each day and deal with different kind of people. In a current economic situation where everyone experiencing global financial crisis, we are attack with massive number of information about the situation and news coming from the media and you need to critically understand what’s going on for you to become an empowered individual.
As the world becomes more global and society interacts with one another, the ability to communicate effectively is a vital need everyone should have. Having this notion or thinking skills is not an overnight process; it is a never ending cycle. It starts with the basics and will have to continue with the applications. For most people humanities is just about reading a literary piece and react on it. Once you get into the class, you will slowly recognize that it is not reading at all but is more of reflecting on the meaning of life. It is obvious that the study of humanities is not just a college course, but it is an on going process and practice in life” The direct effect of studying humanities is not visible instantly but you know what good thing about the class is that you will learn how to make it happen. When you become critical on things that surround you, you start to involve yourself in a positive way.
The following are just few commitments I just made after the course has ended; (1) I will look at myself more honestly (2) I will be aware of my prejudice and how will it hurt someone else’s feelings 3) I will know my values (4) I should be willing to examine and change my habit of thinking (5) I will start to ask appropriate questions base my judgment in facts (6) I will separate facts from opinions (7) I will not let anyone manipulate my way of thinking. We have evaluated different works, read different articles, argue and debate with different topics but none of this activities will be meaningful without connecting in the present situation and search how this will affect you directly. Humanities, like culture is a way of Life.