One of the perks from being a school teacher with a tutor group is that we have a weekly 30-minute “reading for pleasure” activity. The students are supposed to bring a book and read silently. I get to bring a book too. That’s 30-minutes of reading whatever I like.
I’ve been bringing in my GURPS Third Edition Basic Set book recently and I noticed that rather than read linearly, I tend to flip around the pages. Partly this is me referencing other sections of the text as I seek to master the rules. It’s also how my ADHD brain works best with any book – especially reference tomes. The rest is curiosity to answer questions as they occur to me.
In the past, I have been told many times that “page flipping” is bad. The way to read – I have been told – is to read linearly from front to back in the order “the author intended”. Aside from the difficulties in decoding the intention of any author, I think that this is baloney when it comes to learning from rulebooks and textbooks.
Page flipping lets me take in the whole sense of the book. It allows me to receive the artwork and feel inspired. Flipping around let my mind zoom in on details that stand out and become curious. That sense of exploration leads me ever deeper into the text. It’s an adventure into the various aspects of the game that I never seem to get from a linear read.
We have to construct our own model of the material within our own minds. Just because it makes sense to write a book in a particular order, it doesn’t follow that this is the best way to read it. Piecing together small sections of the whole – a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle – is far more efficient. Putting those pieces to use embeds the knowledge far faster than reading the book through.
I’ve also noticed that avidly page flipping draws the curiosity of others – in this case, the students around me – who want to know what has me so absorbed and questing for answers. Their questions breed interest and I’m all in favour of that.