Speed Reading has been around and working for over half a century allowing us to read much faster and at the same time, remember more of what you have read. "It may well be standard equipment for the 21st century Superlearner".
Rapid reading practices allow you to read across many important topics, stay current with the latest advances in your field, and generally reduce the time you spend reading. Yet it is only rarely used in business or education.
However, recent research in brain function and consciousness with regard to speed reading "echoes" the time-expansion work of Erickson and others.
People are shown exactly how to "get out of the way and let your unconscious do the work in a fraction of the usual time." These are technique taught by many NLP trainers and accelerated learning coaches.
Consider breakthoughs such as photo reading. PhotoReading exposes printed materials to the brain at phenomenal rates, a page per second–all beyond the conscious mind's processing capability, but within the capabilities of the subconscious.
Many problems in reading and learning are due to old habits. Our public schools were designed "to create a modestly literate public, not to deliver quality education or produce great minds"... let alone speed reading skills.
To acquire the skill of speed reading requires you to break old habits and form new ones. Teaching itself must change if we are to tap our potential.
The most important habit to break is the habit of reading word-by-word, whilst expecting complete comprehension. Many reading exercises require you to forget comprehension and concentrate all your efforts on the physical skill of speed reading.
Reading is a communication process requiring a series of skills. As such, reading is a thinking process rather than an exercise in eye movements. "External" speed reading exercises such as finger pacing and previewing, highlighting etc., though helpful, are techniques external to where the process actually happens.
Effective reading requires a logical sequence of thinking or thought patterns, and these thought patterns require practice to set them into the mind (as does any speed reading practice). They may be broken down into the following seven basic processes:
1. Recognition: the reader's knowledge of the alphabetic symbols.
2. Assimilation: the physical process of perception and scanning.
3. Intra-integration: basic understanding derived from the reading material itself, with minimum dependence on past experience, other than a knowledge of grammar and vocabulary.
4. Extra-integration: analysis, criticism, appreciation, selection & rejection. These are all activities which require the reader to bring his past experience to bear on the task.
5. Retention: this is the capacity to store the information in memory.
6. Recall: the ability to recover the information from memory storage.
7. Communication: this represents the application of the information and may be further broken down into at least 4 categories, which are:
* Written communication;
* Spoken communication;
* Communication through drawing and the manipulation of objects;
* Thinking, which is another word for communication with the self.
Good communication between the brain hemispheres is a prerequisite for creative thinking, a sense of well-being and anything approaching speed reading, where thoughts and feelings are integrated.
The basic problem - the mismatch between thinking speed and reading speed - arises for the most part from the inadequate methods by which reading is taught. Many people are still reading in the way that they were taught in elementary school. Their reading speed will have settled to about 250 w.p.m. Many people can think at rates of 500 w.p.m. or more, so their mind is running at twice the speed of their eyes. A consequence is that it is easy to lapse into boredom, day-dreaming or thinking about what you want to do on the weekend. Frequently, it is through this type of distraction that you find you have to re-read sentences and paragraphs, and you find as a result, ideas are difficult to understand and remember.
The two main approaches to reading are the Look-Say method and the Phonic method. Both methods are only semi-effective.
In the Phonic method a child is first taught the alphabet, then the different sounds for each of the letters, then the blending of sounds and finally, the blending of sounds which form words. This method works best with children who are left-brain dominant.
In contrast, the Look- Say method works best with children who are right-brain dominant. It teaches a child to read by presenting him with cards on which there are pictures of objects, the names of which are printed clearly underneath. By using this method a basic vocabulary is built up. When a child has built up enough basic vocabulary, he progresses through a series of graded books similar to those for the child taught by the Phonic method, and eventually becomes a silent reader.
In neither of the above cases is a child taught how to read quickly and with maximum comprehension and recall. An effective reader has usually discovered these techniques all by himself.
Neither the Look-Say method nor the Phonic method, either in isolation or in combination, are adequate for teaching an individual to read (not to mention speed reading) in the complete sense of the word. Both these methods are designed to cover the first stage of reading, the stage of recognition, with some attempt at assimilation and intraintegration, but as children you were given little help on how to comprehend and integrate the material properly, nor on how to ensure it is remembered.
The methods currently used in schools do not touch on the problems of speed reading, retention, recall, selection, rejection, concentration and note taking. All these skills can be described as advanced reading techniques.
In short, most of your reading problems have not been dealt with during your initial education. By using appropriate techniques, the limitations of early education can be overcome and reading ability improved by 500% or more.
There are techniques which will reduce the time for eye fixation (the assimilation of a group of words simultaneously) to less than a quarter of a second, and the size of fixation can be increased from one or two short words to as many as five words or half a line. Your eyes will be doing less physical work; rather than having as many as 500 tightly focused fixations per page, you will be making about 100, each of which is less fatiguing, and reading speed can easily exceed 1,000. w.p.m. on light material.
The University of Virginia Study Skills web site demonstrates speed reading and other helpful techniques for students at:
Developing insatiable curiosity with a peak state of emotion as if passionately searching for answers to questions in life is another speed reading skill. Where curiosity is at a peak, a heightened state of attention is accompanied by a thirst for each new reading passage. The emotion not only raises the energy level, but it also strongly assists in remembering details later.
Building an insatiable curiosity for what one is about to read helps in motivation. We want to go past the literal act of remembering isolated words, to collecting and relating ideas.
Another major, if unrecognized benefit of speed reading... as we read, most of us 'speak' the words in our heads. It is this subvocalization that holds back fast reading and it is unnecessary. It is possible to have an inner speech, a kind of 'thought awareness,' that isn't linked to the tongue, mouth and vocal chord muscles, and this is much faster and more fluent. Cutting out the identification of vocalization and the stream of thought gives a surprising by-product.
Many of us think that our constant subvocalized 'speaking voice' is who we are.
Understand the training you are going to give your mind. Finding out that you can think and be aware without a vocal stream of words, opens up your consciousness to the usually unrecognized domain of intuition and spiritual awareness.
Speed Reading Can Boost Time Management.