Gilly: How would you know all that?
Sam: I read about it in a very old book.
Gilly: You know all that from staring at marks on paper?
Gilly: You’re like, a wizard.
GoT, episode 29
Liberal arts colleges are typically places where writing instruction is heavily emphasized, but perhaps reading instruction is less often emphasized or made explicit. It is fair to say that for as many genres of writing there are, there are just as many genres of reading. However, there is more: it seems to me that one cannot write well without being able to read well, since writing about something requires comprehension of the thing, and good comprehension requires the ability to read. I use the term “read” here in a very broad sense of an activity of interpreting, analyzing, and categorizing. It would seem that any program that offers courses on how to write a text should also offer courses on how to read texts. Why is this not the case?
Because, of course, we are all already good readers. That is the natural response to my question. But, if we do not take for granted our writing skills, what justifies taking for granted our reading skills? Here, I don’t mean the rudimentary reading skills that a child struggles to master in early primary school. What I mean is higher order reading that is supposed to interpret meaning, analyze arguments, and categorize (that is, classify) meanings and arguments as being of a particular sort.