Comments made by the president elect today–that he doesn’t need daily security and intelligence briefings because “I’m, like, a smart person”–have lead many people to speculate that perhaps Mr. Trump does not know how to read.
More likely, according to English teachers, he simply lacks the necessary schema to understand the security briefings. Schema refers to background knowledge that allows a reader to comprehend reading materials on a particular subject. For example, a trained biologist may be highly educated but lack the schema to understand complex legal documents.
Mr. Trump, lacking experience in any aspect of political governance, simply does not have the schema to understand political documents such as security briefings, intelligence reports or the United States Constitution.
The following strategies, used by English teachers, may be helpful in encouraging Mr. Trump to complete his reading assignments.
1. Use schema-building activities to build Mr. Trump’s background knowledge before reading. National security officials might try showing videos of the wars in Syria, Somalia, and South Sudan to help him understand that wars are very, very bad and he should focus as much as possible on not getting us into one.
2. Mr. Trump should be encouraged to look up key vocabulary words such as emoluments and to practice using them in his own sentences, such as, “Please don’t impeach me using the emoluments clause.”
2. Teach predictive strategies that will help Mr. Trump anticipate, and thus, better comprehend the topics covered in each report. Since Mr. Trump believes he already knows what is in the reports, encourage him to build on that knowledge by scanning for key terms such as terrorist attack, Vladimir Putin or nuclear holocaust.
3. Help Mr. Trump identify the audience and purpose of the reports by asking critical-thinking questions, such as: Why do you think the nation’s top security experts have compiled these reports? Who do you think these reports are written for? Why, for fuck’s sake, wouldn’t that person want to read the reports? Why? Why?????
If Mr. Trump still cannot or will not read the reports after trying these strategies, security advisors might try fun interactive games like hiding nude photographs of his daughter Ivanka somewhere inside the reports, or presenting the reports in the form of a Twitter rant by Rosie O’Donnell. They might also direct Mr. Trump to speak to a career counselor about options more suited to his interests and skills, such as social media manager or beauty pageant judge or maybe just, like, heir to a trust fund.