|Dawn Balloon Ride Over Albuquerque|
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Velocity in Reading = WORDS per minute
= Difficulty of WORDS
= Challenging Content
Knowing yourself as a learner/thinker.
Being AWARE of your learning/thinking
Scanning = Moving your eyes over the material to look for
something SPECIFIC, eg. looking for a 3 bdr. apt. with w/d, yard.
Speedreading - An Authentic Strategy or a Commercial Enterprise???
A Google search reports 14,600,000 postings for the key word: SPEED READING. That is right, more than half-way to 15 million postings – a popular subject.
We are fascinated with speed, whether it is a fantasy of racing down the Autobahn, or the possibility of reading an entire book in a few hours. We are enchanted by the idea of the instant remedy. Realities are often different. Speeding at certain hours on either a crowded freeway or a bumper-to-bumper main city street is impossible. Reading, digesting, and comprehending a thousand pages of reports in 48 hours is only a fantasy, an empty promise of a photographic memory. Few of us have photographic memories.
Proponents of speed reading define it in two different ways, depending upon the perspective of the individual or organization involved. One explanation is that speed reading silences subvocalization and insures rapid reading. Another perspective is of the opinion that speedreading is a highly developed form of skimming. Skimming means quickly reading material to get the main points. Skimming proponents admit that comprehension is not complete with skimming.
I used to teach speed reading as a college course. There ARE techniques that enable a person to read faster. There maybe be twenty different techniques to achieve speedreading. The ordinary reader usually reads at about 200-300 words per minute (wpm). Rigorous practice of speedreading techniques can raise a person’s reading rate as high as 800 wpm. But……that does not indicate how much comprehension occurs, and how lasting that comprehension is.
Also, just like going to the gym, speed reading exercises must be maintained permanently, or there will be a slideback in the rate of wpm. However, the regression usually does not go back to the starting point. Someone who started a program with a 200 wpm reading speed and got up to 750 wpm, will not maintain that rate unless she/he regularly (daily) practices the speed reading techniques. They will not go back to 200 wpm; depending upon the individual, a speedreader with a beginning rate of 200 wpm who does not keep doing daily exercises will level out at 350-400 wpm. That is still an improvement.
For me as, a Reading Specialist and Professor of Reading, speed is unimportant and potentially detrimental, if comprehension is sacrificed. Understanding is what we want from reading, not rapidity in decoding pages. It has been said that, “Reading without meaning is not reading.” (E. H. Byrd et al, Taking Control of Your College Reading and Learning.). I support this perspective.
I believe speed reading has value for short-term specific situations. The population that benefits most from speed reading exercises are those people who read so slowly that they miss the point that is being made, and therefore, have low comprehension. This group of readers will benefit most from a speedreading program.
In my Google search, I found a speed reading program on the web. It appears very simple; but a reader could get results from this. The URL is www.spreeder.com , check it out. Check out others in your web search.
A final variable in speed reading is the content of the material. Is it material that can be read independently? Is the material frustrating? Or, is it challenging? What is the purpose of the reading?
I am not a proponent of speedreading; I am interested in critical thinking and higher order thinking. Speedreading is a low priority for me. Also, as a lifelong reader, I read fairly rapidly anyway. My own personal speedreading program would be to simply increase both the times spent reading and the degree of challenge in the reading material. That is my personal approach to reading faster, and retaining MEANING.
What do you think? Use your browser; read at least ten items of the almost 15 million. Be able to identify commercial speedreading programs. Check out some free speedreading programs. Remember, for all programs, the techniques are there, but your faithfulness to the techniques is the crucial element.
Personally, I like to “stop and smell the roses”. Reading something rapidly is not my first priority. If I have to read rapidly, I can. I prefer to savor the moment.
What are your thoughts about speedreading? Share them with us.