Coding = a mindful attitude

slow reader

Proper coding abilities as applied to everyday life help improve reading… and more if applied to everyday life procedures :

“The first step in reading actively is to read s-l-o-w-l-y “( and mindfully )”. Here is an algorithm (i.e., a procedure) for how to read any text, in any subject, slowly and actively:

WHILE there is a next sentence to read, DO:
  BEGIN { while }
    Read it, SLOWLY;
    IF you do not understand it, THEN
      BEGIN { if }
        re-read the previous material, SLOWLY;
        re-read the incomprehensible sentence, SLOWLY;
        IF you still don't understand it, THEN
           ask a fellow student to explain it;
        IF you still don't understand it, THEN
           ask your Teaching Assistant (TA) to explain it;
        IF you still don't understand it, THEN
           ask me;
        IF you are in an upper-level course & you still don't understand it, THEN
           write a paper about it (!)
      END { if } 
END; { while }

Since there is no next sentence (because the Boolean test in the WHILE is false), you’ve understood the text!

For those of you who may not be familiar with how to read structured computer programs such as this one, here’s how it goes: In a “while” statement, if the initial test is false, then the rest of the statement is not executed. So, if you are at the beginning or the middle of reading a text, there willbe a “next” sentence, so you do execute the rest of the statement, which says to read that next sentence slowly, etc. However, if you have finished reading the entire text (and, hopefully, have now understood it), then there is no next sentence, so you are finished! (The words in braces, like “{ while }”, are just computer-programming notation for a comment that is intended for human readers of a computer program but that is ignored by the computer.)

This algorithm has three major advantages:

  1. It forces you to actively think about each sentence you read before you go on to read the next one.
  2. It slows you down, so that you don’t read past the point at which you don’t understand. This is especially important in mathematical and scientific subjects.
  3. It can help you get help from your teacher, because you can show your teacher exactly where you got lost. It is always much better to show your teacher exactly what it is that you don’t understand than it is to just say that you don’t understand the material.
  4. Note that it also provides you an opportunity to interact with your instructors and fellow students!

How do you know whether you understand what you’ve read? Easy: After each sentence, ask yourself “Why?” “(Pressley & El-Dinary 1992).


2 thoughts on “Coding = a mindful attitude

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