OVERVIEW: READING FOR TRANSFER

Note: One of the main shifts we can make in the reading of imaginative literature is to engage in purposeful transference. This includes the transfer of certain knowledge and ideas (e.g., about literary elements, genres; inquiry questions; critical lenses) into the reading of the text, the transfer of the reading of the text beyond the discussion of the text itself, and the reading of other things in the world using literary knowledge and understandings. I am calling this “reading for transfer” and explain more of what I mean below.

Today’s world necessitates new literacies–including new ways of reading for transfer.

Today “reading” requires more than “the ability to process visual words found on a fixed page.” Reading also requires abilities to process images, sounds, and words encountered in a complex,  dynamic, and media-rich landscape where numerous voices and narratives collide and conflict.

Educators can help readers learn how “to read the world” through transfer of print text skills to the dynamic multi-media world. With these reading-for-transfer skills, readers can view the world as text–and can consider such things as: language use; narrative elements; arguments; tools of rhetoric, including tools of persuasion and even propaganda; and genre (how it determines and structures information conveyed), including social media as genre.

Readers can deepen awareness of the lenses through which texts can be read, including (but not limited to) critical lenses, lenses of bias, lenses transferred from other disciplines, and inquiry lenses. Readers can deepen awareness of their own evolving lenses and how these lenses shape their interpretations of texts and of the world.

The reader can then bring reading-as-transfer skills to other literacy acts, including writing and speaking for varied audiences and purposes. In writing and in speaking, reading-for-transfer skills can allow for depth of thinking and scope of significance.

The transfer of reading skills is essential not just to readers themselves but also to democracy, which relies on participants who use effective reading skills to participate as informed voters and citizens who “read the world” and use readings to exercise voice and agency. More largely, a global society requires humans to exercise capacities to understand the world so that they can act within it.