For a long time now, whether it be in school or from general advisors in education, I’ve heard the phrase “read with purpose.” Anytime a reading is assigned for a paper or that will be discussed in class they tell students that they need to “read with purpose.” To me, this is a flawed way of thinking. Because, more often than not when a teacher uses this phrase, their students immediately decide that their purpose for reading is just to get it done. They don’t try to comprehend what they’re reading anymore than before and may even be less inclined to. The students are focused on just getting the answers and having them ready for class. That is what it usually comes down to. But, even putting that aside, when a student reads on their own their purpose for reading could be to learn about the latest gossip or simply getting to know what happens to the characters in a novel.
There are rarely times where a student might actually read with the intended purpose that teachers aim for. When they say “read with purpose” they really mean I want you to read and analyze the text so that you can gain understanding. The student is never thinking that. They just want the work to be done quickly especially if they are uninterested in what’s going in the class. As I stated before, it’s rare for a student to even read with purpose at all. They might start reading with purpose if it is a genuine area of interest or curiosity. That’s when a student becomes invested and actually tries to learn what they’re reading on a deeper level than what is required. It is not that students do not wish to learn. It’s that they see school as a hassle and decreases the motivation for them to pursue individual study. So, I would suggest to educators that you no longer use the term “reading with a purpose” and instead just tell them to analyze the text. It’s closer to your end goal and will definitely help your students be better prepared. “Reading with a purpose” is a little dishonest in the grand scheme of things and leads to a misunderstanding of what you truly want.
That all being said, I have only had the experiences of the student. I don’t know what goes through a teacher’s head when they tell you to read with purpose. It might just be an old technique that wore out its welcome. Either way it is flawed in its own way and I hope that you see where I’m coming from.