A reader draws on two broad information sources to answer questions: information in the text and information inside the reader’s head. For example, some questions have answers that can be found directly in the text. These questions are textually explicit and lead to answers that are “right there” in the text. (Richard T. Vacca, Jo Anne L. Vacca, Content Area Reading, 5th ed., HarperCollins, NY: 1996, p48.)When I’d get in a situation when I didn’t know what to do, often I’d open the scriptures and find a principle explicitly stated with I could apply to my problem and get a clear answer.
Other questions have answers that require students to think about the information they have read in the text. They must be able to search for ideas that are related to one another and then put these ideas together in order to answer the questions. These questions are textually implicit and lead to “think and search” answers (ibid).Think and search. Doesn’t that sound like it fits so well with “search, ponder, and pray”? I think this passage has clarified for me just what can go on when I search, ponder, and pray. I can be pondering a question, then searching for the answer in the scriptures, then pondering how what I’ve found might fit together with my previous knowledge. And sometimes the Spirit brings to our memory some scriptural phrases that are applicable. And I pray for understanding when I'm really stuck.
Sometimes I try to think of scripture stories that are similar to the one that I am reading and then I think about how they are the same and how they are different. How is the story of Paul preaching to King Agrippa like or unlike the story of Abinadi preaching to King Noah? How is the story of Joseph helping Pharaoh understand his dreams the same or different from the story of Ammon helping King Lamoni out with the sheep? How is the story of Lehi leaving Jerusalem like or different from the story of the brother of Jared leaving Babel? How is the story of Joseph being sold by his brothers like or different from the story of Nephi’s relationship with his brothers? Is there anything we can learn from those differences or similarities?
Still other questions require students to rely mainly on prior knowledge and experience. In other words, responses to these questions are more inside the reader’s head than in the text itself. These questions are schema-based and lead to “author and you” and “on my own” answers (ibid).So, when you get the answer “on your own”, the text has gotten you thinking and then you use your prior knowledge to answer the question.
I don’t know how far I’ve gotten into this kind of studying of the scriptures. Do any of you have experiences of this kind to share?