Introduction to Reading Skills
Does technology drive skills?
To be able to see, i.e., to perceive, it isn't enough just to look -- you need an idea, a guide to what you are viewing. This requires skill, and the skill has to be learned. Whatever we perceive of the world has to be an interpretation (or construction) -- i.e., a product of our perceptual mechanisms . This is skilled action and is creative in its essence -- you go from a state of not knowing to a state of knowing. So our experience is personal (or subjective) in nature with significant history behind it -- the stuff you bring to the experience.
I believe the underlying ground for our perception is the hunter's model, in the sense of track, intercept, and strike and includes the background you bring to the hunt. Adopting Kant's view (see his section on "Transcendental Unity of Apperception," which refers to the fact that all of your experiences are yours, uniquely, just as all of mine are mine), there is a "you" hunter and there is a "me" hunter. We track (perceive) in many different forms and guises. The searching structure identifies us as individuals, And that makes good sense, because each of us does his own work in perceiving our worlds.
Visual perception isn't like a still camera -- we don't simply take temporally isolated, unbiased pictures of the real environment. Rather, it's an aggregate of complex skills, including what we call visual acuity, and involving many visual tools. What we see in our reading depends on what we're looking for, what we've learned to that moment of time, and tools, capabilities, and emotional baggage we bring to the situation.
Reading is investigative. It's the way that we interpret each context, or social group. We use reading skills to the best of our ability to learn what's happening (know-what) and motor skills to respond to what's happening (know-how). We try to learn the truth and act on it.
Reading skills generate our personal (subjective) virtual realities, or representations of the (objective) environments, a construction that depends on the ideas we bring with it. It's a matter of getting ideas and acquiring information. And motor skills make it possible to react to the information.
Skills are Problem-Solving Tools
All skills are problem-solving in nature. They are self-managing abilities, aimed at getting answers to one or another of our dilemmas. We are always in a learning or decision-making mode, except possibly when caught in nature's grip, as in falling. We may also at times decide to let others make decisions for us. We use learned, highly elaborate sensory-motor processes to try to get meaningful results from our decisions. We have to read what's occurring -- we interpret problem circumstances (get information) -- and take appropriate action to resolve matters, though we seldom get to the best results (the truth) and often we're not successful at all with our response. But we get lucky once in a while.
The Sensory Component
We are embedded in the world we view -- in one or another social context. To be able to observe, we have to become part of what we observe, partake of (take unto ourselves) what is observed, to make it our own. And in that world we make distinctions, though we don't know how we do it. We do know we use many empowerment tools.
Information gathering skills are highly interactive sensory-motor processes, having sensory and motor components. We need both components to generate action contexts. They are the source of our ability to acquire and use information. In reading the world we structure it (create behavioral arenas) and thereby acquire the information. Structuring packages the information. Were we not able to make the distinctions we experience, we wouldn't be able to acquire the information or perform meaningful motor functions. There would only be void.
Perception is our way of recognizing patterns in skills settings. Operational arenas are the cultural contexts for skilled action. They give meaning to the actions.
Theory-making is an ongoing modeling process by means of which we structure our world in real time in order to extract information from it. We employ principles and mechanisms in the process. Perception in-forms the world in many different ways in many different situations and thereby yields different kinds of in-formation. Using the language of G. Spencer Brown, this expresses the ability to draw distinctions. It is the means whereby we detect, recognize, and identify patterns, both spatial and temporal.
The Motor Component
The motor component of skills provides movement -- performance of some action, use of our eyes, hands, tools, equipment -- any of a wide variety of mechanisms. You must exert your muscles in muscle-bone levers to get around. Without mechanisms, all skills would be empty of meaning, including reading skills.
But the motor component itself is structured. We orchestrate, or manage, our behavior according to internal motion models that define the orchestral pattern, each muscle having a job to do, a problem to solve. The motor aspect makes it possible to journey into the "illuminated" zone.
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My investigations are meant to understand how we're able, often at just a glance, to interpret a developing situation or recognize an unfolding tactical pattern, like tracking the stock market or tracking and intercepting a tennis ball. We use many tools and techniques (aids, mechanisms) in so doing. I'm trying to provide aids to help you read your various micro-worlds, i.e., heighten your ability to make distinctions and help you ask and answer questions and solve problems more effectively, problems such as reading the gold market. In large part this is a matter of helping you get rid of mistakes (seeing flaws in skills) and helping you find ways to improve them (See Action Research)
By running science-based trials in simulation we can go a long way to raising our level of competence. The ground for this belief is that each simulation, through its power of representation, is a patterned repository of information that stands in for the real setting. Because of the feedback that can be applied, learning in the representative environment can be even better than what is possible in the real world arena. It can make real-world learning a lot easier.
This is a lot of stuff to pack in one page. To get more information on many facets of the problem, you might check with my new book, The Science of Skills and the Art of Learning.
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