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Week 2 - Improving the Use of Metacognitive

Reading Tools

Over the past two weeks, one experience that has helped me better understand how to use the
metacognitive "reading tools" (one of the course objectives) has been the group work on Thomas
Holt's "Knowledge is Power: The Black Struggle for Literacy." This group assignment involved
the class analyzing different parts of the text (split into three paragraph parts), which we had to
summarize using various reading tools. This activity assisted me in understanding how to better
use these tools by allowing me to see the thinking behind other groups analysis, as well the the
thought process behind the people in my group. For example, the analysis of paragraph 20 by
group 6 was especially helpful in understanding the "Making Connections" and "Context"
reading tools; in particular, their paragraph summary aided in my understanding the power
structures between the blacks and whites, and the context in which that power structure existed in
the South and North:

"Blacks begin their fight for the right to education on two fronts, fighting against both Southern
whites who opposed any kind of education for blacks at all and Northern whites who wanted a
manipulative 'brand-X' form of education by looking for assistance internally and turning to self-
help within their own community." - Group 6

My writing and reading skills have improved from insights provided by this kind of analysis,
which has assisted in me improving a bit more. This proved useful when doing the "Close
Reading Practice" assignment on Holt's work on Connect. When focusing on contextualization, I
was better able to understand and pull apart of the meaning behind paragraph 21 of Holt's work
and wrote:

"A principle cause of the white Southern opposition to black education was that, if blacks
became educated and left farms, there'd be no one left to tend to the farms. This reminds the
reader of the context of the South around the mid to late 1800s, which was that the South had a
largely agricultural economy (in contrast to the more industrialized North)." - Luis Parada

As is stated above, the difference in what the economies of the South and North are based (i.e.
agricultural vs. industrial) are an important reason for Southern whites' opposition to any kind of
education for blacks that would lead them to leave farming. It is by understanding the context of
these sorts of affairs that one can better understand why the white Southerners had such a vested
interest in keeping blacks from becoming literate and pursuing education.

Overall, I've learned and improved my ability to read and analyze a text via the group activity
stated above. Although it is not much, this is an important first step in helping me improve my
abilities as a writer and reader for university-level work and scholarly discourse.