I’m reading Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters, by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. The book is very obviously written and designed for a k-12 educator audience.

But with a slight stretch of imagination, anyone can apply what Beers and Probst discuss to their own reading practice. To their own thinking. To their own life. With a different aesthetic (and content angle), this book could have appealed to many, many others and transformed their minds.

I’m not so interested in discussing Scholastic’s marketing and content design strategy right now, though. I want to share a different thought with you…

In the introduction, Beers describes how she had proposed the idea to Probst about an article on teaching struggling readers and he responded saying that he’d rather title the article “Teaching Struggling Readers; Teaching Readers to Struggle.”

When was the last time you struggled with reading?

I don’t mean a vision problem. I don’t mean a vocabulary problem. I don’t even mean a focus problem.

I mean a struggle with yourself—your values, your assumptions, your deeply engrained biases. When’s the last time you challenged yourself about what something means to you? When’s the last time you read something out of your comfort zone?

We are really good at flicking. And scanning.

But this goes far beyond reading, which is actually a form of listening.

We are equally good at nodding, saying, “Mm-hmm” to others, having superficial conversations. We are super good at framing conversations under our own assumptions and biases—so good we rarely notice it.

When’s the last time you struggled with listening? When you immersed yourself in trying to understand someone else—their hopes, their fears, their motivations, their internal dialogue? When your curiosity became inseparable with your compassion?

Of course you don’t have to agree with anyone. But there’s value in trying to listen more openly, to find the story beyond the statement. To learn how to read books, or people and situations with more creativity. To approach something with more humility, fewer assumptions.

To learn to struggle.