Reading and Understanding: Teaching from the Perspective of Artificial Intelligence

Reading and Understanding: Teaching from the Perspective of Artificial Intelligence

Reading and Understanding: Teaching from the Perspective of Artificial Intelligence

Reading and Understanding: Teaching from the Perspective of Artificial Intelligence

Excerpt

When my daughter was four years old I taught her to read. She had loved books from the time she was introduced to them at the age of two months. At first, they were objects to be mouthed. Later they were the source of pretty pictures and the warm feelings derived from sitting on a parent's lap. Still later they were the source of fun stories and the reward of her parent's appreciation when she started to recite books that she had memorized.

When she learned to read, her love of reading increased. She read a book a day at one point. At this writing, Hana is eight years old, and is in the fourth grade. She still loves to read. She reads for a half hour every night before she goes to bed, and often reads at other times during the day. She almost never watches television. Outside of sports, reading is her favorite activity. Why do I bother to mention all this here? Because, if you ask Hana what she likes least about school, she will tell you "Language." In fact, she detests "Language." She finds it boring and she feels she learns nothing from it.

When she first told me about this, I asked to see her reading workbooks. I was astounded at what I found there. There was good reason for her to hate "Language."

Throughout most of my life, I have been involved in teaching computers to read. I have worked extensively on determining the nature of the human reading process, so that we could get computers to simulate it. I never thought a great deal about how children were taught to read. I assumed that it was being done in a reasonable fashion. And perhaps it was, given what has been understood about the process of reading.

But, we now know a great deal about reading that has not in any way . . .

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