By Gyeryeong Kim
Senior Staff Writer
The room filled with English professor Jason Carney’s booming voice. It sounded as if he was acting. The students focused on his voice and read through a poem with him. He read the poetry using his emotions and explained the details. The focus was on interpreting the poem.
Reading and understanding literature are not one and the same. Literature involves navigating the author’s purpose and deeper meanings within the text. It is the role of the reader to understand them.
Brookhaven College offered a SkillsShop, “Making Inferences – Learning to Read Between the Lines,” to help students looking to enhance their literary comprehension April 16 in Room S003.
Students can struggle with reading literature, especially poetry. According to writing forcollege.org, “Since very few students today read poetry, and few have learned the strategies for doing so effectively, poetry units provide substantial problems for students and professors … Most instructors lack the class time necessary to provide the coaching students need to learn these interpretive strategies.”
Carney said the hardest part for students when it comes to reading literature is asking for help. “If there is something you don’t understand, another person is always a great resource,” he said.
The SkillsShop was made up of questions. Instead of students asking Carney questions, Carney asked them questions – by answering the questions, the students had to think more deeply and ultimately, better understand the poem themselves.
“As I recall, inference is an act of inferring and processing information from premises to conclusions,” biochemistry major Thuan Lam said. “The instructor made it easier for us to remember by defining it as reading between the lines, which I found very helpful.”
Using inference is a popular technique. A lot of instructors use poems to help their students improve and practice reading skills. In her global post.com article “The Benefits From Reading,” Brittany Howard wrote, “Many English teachers require their students to read poetry because of its academic benefits to students … These skills, she argues, lead students to be more creative problem-solvers. Just like visual arts or music, reading and writing poetry requires concentration, patience and attention to details, skills that can be carried into other areas of study.”
Carney said the thing students must remember when they practice reading skills is to absorb the main idea. “In whatever you read, identify the theme or thesis,” Carney said. “From there, you can break down the language the writer uses to convey those ideas.”