I am a little sorry, but the first thing I noticed about Bayard’s book was the common usage of the letter S instead of the letter Z in words like “memorising” and “analysing”. I understand this is not a very deep first impression of an academic publication, and it should NOT have surprised me, especially coming from an author from the UK, but it cracked me up. In fact, I tried typing those words into my paper but spell check kept “automatically correcting” the spellings. Now, the words remain underlined in red in my draft copy reminding me of my American-ness. I apologize for my English language deficiencies to our Londoner, Dr. Jason Clark!
The second impression I received from Bayard’s book was immediately about the usage of the word “grit” in several different places. Before Mike Webb reminds me that he had dibs on the discussion surrounding this word (especially compared to the Duke, John Wayne), I wanted to early on in my writing include a quote from Coach George Raveling that says, “As I stated before, you do not need a title to be a leader. But one does need grit to be a courageous leader.” Bayard’s use of the word grit, in his book titled, “Learn How To Study: Developing the Study Skills and Approaches To Learning That Will Help You Succeed in University” and in Coach Raveling’s quote, grit screamed out to me concepts like perseverance and stick-to-it-tive-ness! And surprisingly spell check did not auto correct that last word. This term resonates with me on so many levels after one month in our program. It is going to take grit in persevering and being successful in both leadership and in our studies.
Unsurprisingly, most of us in the elite LGP8 cohort will have immediately focused in on Bayard’s SQ3R and how to apply this to our reading. I have found this strategy to be extremely helpful and would count it as a top three takeaway from our Doctoral studies so far. The other two of my top three takeaways, in no particular order, center around NOT feeling guilty about NOT reading every word of every book, as well as reading more intelligently at a significantly deeper level (both from Adler’s How To Read a Book).
Regarding the SQ3R previously mentioned, especially beneficial to me is the third R, Review. However, it is not what I have chosen to drill in on for my post this week. I have chosen to focus on one of my weaknesses in reading and writing, specifically I am referring to the area of being appropriately critical, and how to respond carefully. Thus, chapters 6 and 7 dominated my reading energy this week. Critical reading almost naturally makes me read to a deeper level.
Therefore, the first item about this book that I found myself critically evaluating was the fact that this book is nearly 50 years old! I understand there have been several revisions, but almost 50 years old–Are you kidding me? I don’t think many of us in the program will be using a 50 year old source for our dissertation. If we do, we had better be able to back it up, and pronto.
Secondly, I found myself questioning why there was such a lack of professional reviews of this book. Was it so basic that folks simply skipped the thought of critically evaluating Bayard’s writing? I searched every source previously used to find helpful book reviews, but found almost nothing. Then I found myself thinking that I agree intuitively with many suggestions from chapters 1 through 5, but there was nothing that especially rocked my world and made me want to change my reading habits, especially enough to want to write a favorable professional review.
I honestly believe this book was so full of common sense that it lulled me to sleep. There were many practical applications in this book (like getting organized for reading and developing a strategy for reading), but I was quite surprised at how few of times I used the highlighter feature of my Kindle.
However, I can honestly tell my beloved cohort members, and my wife when she asks me what I learned this week (she is so kind to show interest and ask me this question every week), that I will be able to respond without hesitation that I most enjoy reading books that are PRACTICAL. I was reminded first and foremost, that I am a practical reader. I most enjoy books that give me something to APPLY to my daily living. I need books that help me to improve my lot in life. I don’t enjoy so much books that are more about theory than practice.
I am not referring to so called “self-help” books, because my practicality goes deeper than that. This book was a decent example of practical applications in the art of studying, and I will use strategies like searching for weaknesses, and deciding if the author’s conclusions make sense. I have actually found this practical book to be of some use to me.
Has this book been of any value to my Brothers and Sisters in the elite LGP8 cohort? I think it has, especially if you have read my blog post CRITICALLY, and noticed my on purpose referral to this book being written by Bayard, because this is completely inaccurate, as this book was written by Rowntree! (grin)