Friday, July 08, 2011

Slow reading revisted... plus that bread and butter pickle recipe at the end

Because the two things are incredibly related, right?  I live with non-sequitors and randomness and I've gotten used to it.

But anyway, back to that slow reading-thing.  Remember that experiment I was conducting to see if only reading a book in small (not more than 15 minutes) intervals helped with understanding and retention because the small bit or reading was thought over in the non-reading time?  Well, it was a bust as far as my personal learning style is concerned.  Which also makes it a bust for the majority of my children since I see many of my own tendencies mirrored in them.  (If only they mirrored my good tendencies... but I digress.)

Here's why it didn't work for me.  First, I have to admit I have not yet finished the book I was reading.  It's a book I'm interested in and one that is well-written, but reading it in such small (for me) doses caused me to lose complete interest.  Second, I realize that with non-fiction, I never read something just once.  I usually skim the entire book first to get an overview and so I know what to expect and then go back and read it a second time much more carefully.  I find it very difficult to grasp what is being presented without that overview to begin with.  It's as though I have nothing on which to hang the information in my brain.  Third, I find I think about things more often and more deeply if I have spent a lot of time on something.  There is too much going on in my life evidently, for small amounts of information to even register much less take up any thought time.  This last point is true of fiction as well as non-fiction.  One of my favorite books, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, is a huge sprawling novel about a family in India.  It's well over 1000 pages long and I loved it and still remember a huge amount of it.  And it is also a book a read in huge doses, reading hundreds of pages at a time.  There is no way I could have been as involved with the story by reading just 10 pages in one sitting.

I also find it interesting that the book I chose to do the experiment with (How to Read Slowly by James Sire) deals with the subject but comes to vastly different conclusions than Miss Mason.  Mr. Sire's position is that it is good and desirable to re-read and thus gaining new insight, information, and appreciation, with each new reading.  (Of course, this assumes that what one is reading is worth the effort.  Not all books need or warrant a second reading.)  While I agree with Miss Mason that we should train ourselves and our children to read carefully and to exercise our minds to an extent that we can communicate with others about what we've read, I don't think that this position rules out second readings or reading in great doses.  Having conducted this experiment (such as it was), I will politely have to disagree with her on this point.

I'm curious as to what others think about this.  Have you stringently used Charlotte Mason's methods with your children?  How has it worked?

But what you all really want to talk about it food preservation and not books... at least judging by the number of comments my post about canning engendered.  Here's the bread and butter pickle recipe I use.

Bread and Butter Pickles (from Canning and Preserving by Linda Ferrari)  with some of my own tweaks and notes.

10 - 12 pickling cucumbers
4 large onions
1/2 C salt
4 C vinegar
4 C sugar
1 TBSP celery seed
2 tsp tumeric
2 TBSP mustard seed
1 tsp mixed pickling spices

Slice the cucumbers and onions (I used a mandoline with the smallest slicing plate) and alternately layer them in a strainer covering each layer with salt.  Cover with ice and let drain for 3 hours.  Add ice as needed.  Drain and rinse thoroughly.

Combine vinegar, sugar, and spices and bring to a boil.  Boil 10 minutes.  Add cucumbers and onions and bring to a boil again.  Fill hot jars with cucumbers and onions.  Add hot liquid to within 1/2 inch of tops of jars.  Release air bubbles, clean the rims, and seal.  Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes (I use a steam canner... and process for same amount of time.  We're still alive and I've been using for years.)

Makes 3 quarts of pickles.  I also let them sit in the pantry for six weeks before using... I don't know if this is necessary for this type of pickle, but I do it just to be sure.


Shonya said...

I'm reading blogs while my canners are diligently working away. . .but always prefer to read about books over canning! lol

As to your question, we are "eclectic homeschoolers" (ha, aren't we all?!) There is a decided CM flavor to our education, but I'm not a strict advocate (chuckling and thinking "that's for sure!")

We're going to be reading "How to Read Slowly" this year with our Starting Points study and I'm looking forward to it!!

thecurryseven said...

Shonya-- The Starting Points curriculum is why we have the book. Just a word of warning, my oldest informed me that I have ruined the movie, The Wizard of Oz, for her because she is suddenly much more aware of worldview. I think I can live with that, though.


Pamela said...

You have made me want to read this book. I, too, read differently for nonfiction and fiction or if it's a book I think is worth the extra time.

Looks like a great recipe!


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