Scholar Skills – The ArCEA Method Outlined

Becoming an active, critical reader of informative content, especially in the form of text, is an important skill for you to develop. Most of us have had little or no coaching in these powerful skills of growth and self-defense[1]. So we provide you with the ArCEA method to guide you in developing your critical reading and analysis abilities. We’ll give you plenty of opportunity to practice.  

In feedback from Gaia U associates the ArCEA process is regularly described as a powerful tool for extending intellectual ability. Associates thrive when they develop the skills required. We call it a ‘liberating structure’ as it provides the framework for freeing up intelligences that might previously have been mired in confusion (as to how to do reading for information).

ArCEA is a mnemonic (a memory helper) that stands for Active reading, Critique, Expansion and (at least) imagining Action. You will benefit a great deal by actively engaging with this skill flexing process. In this Element, we focus primarily on Ar = Active reading. We develop the whole method over a longer time period in subsequent Elements.

Active reading has two phases: –

  1. deconstructing the text (primarily seeking out the keywords and the logic structure) and
  2. reconstructing the text in the form of an XMind Map (skilled users often add in a bunch of their own thinking and knowledge at this point – that’s the Critique and Expand phases.

Note that ArCEA method is quite at home when used for reading text, listening to audio, watching/listening to movies, hearing lectures and presentations although your skills need to be especially sharp when dealing with those modes of presentation[2] that require you to pause, rewind and replay.

[1] Self-defense here means the ability to interrogate any content to identify (and reject) bias and propaganda – skills in this realm of critical analysis help protect us from absorbing misinformation.

[2] Presentations we can’t control (films at the cinema, television programming, radio broadcasts and so on) are especially hard to process and critique (propaganda experts know this which is why these mediums are their favorites). Repeated viewings/listenings are required (maybe 4 or 5) in order to fully comprehend the presentations and very few people take the time or trouble to do this. Thus all manner of dubious messages get past the gates of our minds without adequate critique.