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What is the meaning of take approach in this sentence?

Most books take a very low-level approach, teaching you how to use individual classes and accomplish fine-grained tasks.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Taking an approach means selecting the direction from where you want to start solving a problem.

For instance, I could find myself wanting to teach someone a language.

I could start with just vocabulary, or I could start with grammar.

Those options could be described as a "vocabulary-first approach" or a " grammar-first approach".

Approach comes from the verb approach which means moving closer to a goal. When there are several directions from where to reach that goal, I have the choice of several approaches.

The word is also used in a more literal sense, for instance when an air plane is going to land, it approaches the airport. When it is lined up with the landing strip, and it descends to actually land, we say it is on final approach.

A moment in time can also approach: the end of the month is approaching as I write this.

In your sentence, the word is used in a figurative way. There are supposedly several ways to accomplish what you want to accomplish, and most books take a specific direction to get there.

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+1. I hope you don't mind me adding: a low-level approach teaches the small stuff first, and you gradually see the big picture. A high-level approach teaches the big picture first, from the 30,000-foot view, before delving into more close-up study of the individual components. – J.R. Mar 24 '14 at 9:10
@J.R. Feel free to edit it into the answer :) I actually wrote up an example to explain the low-level/high-level difference, but I removed it as it became too wordy in my version :) – oerkelens Mar 24 '14 at 9:14
Let's leave it as a footnote, then. – J.R. Mar 24 '14 at 9:15

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