Most students aren’t stupid, but I think many haven’t been effectively challenged or trained. It’s also harder for the instructor to teach close reading than it is to have meandering discussions about how a given work, which has probably been at best skimmed, makes students feel.
This, again, articulates one reason why I am committed to narration (read here and listen here) with my kids: I want them to learn to listen first, and then respond. And if teaching ‘close reading’ is hard (as Seliger mentions in this quote), teaching narration is pretty simple. Of course, it’s a long game – it takes time to build up the muscles for it – but it is straightforward. Listen or read with all of your attention – once – and then tell back or write down what was read.
Of course, there are caveats to this. As a parent, I am interested in my child’s reaction their reading. I want to have discussions – meandering ones as well as orderly narrations. But I also don’t want to lose sight of a bigger goal – to develop a habit of reserving judgment until a person has had their say, to understand that this is a form of neighborliness and hospitality toward others. And to have a sense of humility that my emotional reaction is not the most important aspect of what I read and learn.