Tips How to Read Texts

Here are a series of tips to help you read texts that are unfamiliar to you. Note they are divided into two substeps, one to follow when reading scripture, the other when reading other texts. These are suggestions for developing better reading habits.

1A. When you are reading a passage from scripture:

• Each time you read or study, begin by reviewing what you have already read in light of your specific purpose.

• Identify the main idea or ideas and give a title to each paragraph or identifiable subsection of the text. You may refer to the letters in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh to see examples of how Horace Holley did this with subsections.

• Focus on the purposes for which the text was revealed. What are the fundamental principles and truths can you identify in the text? Identify these passages for easy referral.

• Identify metaphors, images, symbols, and allusions found in the text.

• If there is a section you have a question about, write a small question mark next to it. Feel free to post questions on the Forum.

• List on a separate sheet of paper questions that occur to you while reading. Note the paragraph and/or page number.

• Listen to yourself while you read. Note sections that inspire you to great emotion: joy, a leaping heart, awe, concern, trepidation, etc.

• Be aware of your personal reactions to the reading. Note insights, analogies, words and ideas that you use to say, “I know what this means!”

• As you read, link new ideas with existing ones in meaningful ways. What thoughts do you have about what you are reading? How does it link to your previous knowledge and understanding? How can this new knowledge be used in new tasks? How can it be transferred to new situations? How does it add to, modify, or reorganize existing attitudes, knowledge and skills?

• Reflect on the following as you read: What is the importance of this particular idea of passage to the development of your national Bahá’í community? Of your local community? Of your neighborhood? Has its wisdom withstood the tests of time? What lessons does it bring us in the twenty-first century?

• Integrate your learning with such strategies as concept mapping, thematic organization, categorization or outlining.

• See how what you read can help you to meet the goals and objectives of this course to: 1. Foster and facilitate the process of entry by troops; 2. Foster the systematic acquisition of knowledge, qualities and skills of service; 3. Understand and teach the fundamental verities of the Faith; 4. Serve the Faith; and 5. Assist in personal, community and institutional development.

Look for phrases or sentences that you would like to memorize and mark them or copy them onto cards for later use.

• Identify cause and effect relationships in the text.

• Identify directives found in the text.

These mechanical techniques may be useful in completing some of the above tasks:

• Highlight text – color code or underline

• Make notes in margins

• Underline key passages

• Develop and use a symbol to mark each occurrence of one of the above.

The book Reading Bahá’u’lláh’s Word by Smith and Diehl (Palabra Publications, 1997) may be a helpful resource.

Note: The amount of time devoted to each unit may not be enough to complete these tasks. Do what you want to do or can do. You always have time after the course to continue your study.

 

 1B. When you are reading non-scriptural texts:

• Identify the main idea or ideas in each paragraph or identifiable subsection of the text.

• If there is a section you have a question about, write a small question mark next to it. Feel free to post questions on the Forum.

• List on a separate sheet of paper questions that occur to you while reading. Note the paragraph and/or page number.

• Compare what you are reading to other texts. Where is this text the same? Where is it different? Can you explain the similarities or differences?

• Be aware of your personal reactions to the reading. Note insights, analogies, words and ideas that you use to say, “I know what this means!”

• As you read, link new ideas with existing ones in meaningful ways. What thoughts do you have about what you are reading? How does it link to your previous knowledge and understanding? How can this new knowledge be used in new tasks? How can it be transferred to new situations? How does it add to, modify, or reorganize existing attitudes, knowledge and skills?

• Reflect on the following as you read: What is the importance of this particular idea or passage to the development of your national Bahá’í community? Of your local community? Or your neighborhood? Has its wisdom withstood the tests of time? What lessons does it bring us in the twenty-first century?

• Integrate your learning with such strategies as concept mapping, thematic organization, categorization or outlining.

• See how what you read can help you to meet the goals and objectives of this course to: 1. Foster and facilitate the process of entry by troops; 2. Foster the systematic acquisition of knowledge, qualities and skills of service; 3. Understand and teach the fundamental verities of the Faith; 4. Serve the Faith; and 5. Assist in personal, community and institutional development.

 

Look for phrases or sentences that you would like to memorize and mark them or copy them onto cards for later use.

These mechanical techniques may be useful in completing some of the above tasks:

• Highlight text – color code or underline

• Make notes in margins

• Underline key passages

• Develop and use a symbol to mark each occurrence of one of the above.

Note: The amount of time devoted to each unit may not be enough to complete all these tasks. Do what you want to do or can do. You always have time after the course to continue your study.