Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 103 - February 2014 - by Phil Chambers

TIME TO READ: 3.5 minutes (average reader) - less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 822 To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us or read my book Brilliant Speed Reading.

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Welcome to the February issue of The Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

In this edition of the newsletter we have an article on an important aspect of Speed Reading plus our regular features of quote of the month, What I’m up to and Mind Map Tip.


February's Quote of the Month

"Modern research has shown that
your eye-brain system is
thousands of times more complex
and powerful than had
previously been estimated,
and that with proper training
you can quickly reap the benefits
of this enormous potential."

~ Tony Buzan

More quotes here


What's Phil Up To?


I have recently returned from Frankfurt after teaching a course on Speed Reading (hence my choice of main article). I was a day late returning because my flight was cancelled due to high winds at Birmingham airport. I was put up in a hotel for the night and made fruitful use of my time writing this newsletter and responding to emails.

I will be off to Japan at the end of the month to teach Mind Mapping and Memory with Tony Buzan.


Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Leave a blank space in the middle of your Mind Map if you get ‘stuck’ for a central image. The brain is very good at filling in ‘gaps’. You will find that as you start drawing branches and filling in details your sub-conscious will come up with an appropriate centre. If you use iMindMap software you can choose any centre and easily change the image later.


For 101 Top Tips see my book here.


Fight the Fear

One of the biggest barriers when learning to Speed Read is the fear that you will miss something as you get faster. It is logical and patently obvious that speed and comprehension are inversely proportional. The faster you go the lower your comprehension. In everyday life we experience a similar phenomenon. You see more detail when your waking than if you’re running or driving a car. This is further promoted by teachers and text-books in school that tell you to ‘read slowly and carefully’. The belief in confirmed to novice speed readers whose comprehension plummets as they try new speed techniques. Armed with this evidence they slow themselves down in an effort to regain control and comprehension.

Luckily for would-be Speed Readers this is COMPLETELY FALSE. You need to suspend disbelief and forget about your fears. Let me explain why speed and comprehension can both increase together…

The reason why comprehension often drops when students learn new techniques is that a large proportion of their attention is on what they are doing (i.e. the techniques) thus they are not giving their full attention the text. The only way to get faster is to practise without ‘putting the breaks on’. Let go, push for full speed and work on this over a sustained period. You have to unlearn an old habit and establish a new one. This doesn’t happen overnight. An engrained habit, in physiological terms, consists of a network or brain cells that have become ‘hard wired’ together. They trigger each other in sequence very easily. New habits are fragile and have to be repeated many times before they gain enough strength to outweigh the power of the old network. Given time the techniques do eventually become second nature. It takes about a month or so, doing a little practise every day. When you don’t have to think about the techniques any more, your full attention returns to the text and comprehension goes up again.

Another reason why reading faster can lead to increased comprehension is as follows: Every single word you read can trigger a whole cascade of associations, feelings and memories, most of which have nothing to do with the author’s meaning. As you speed up there is less time for these to form in your mind. Secondly, one of the key elements of speed reading is to take in ‘meaningful groups of words’. Each chunk has its meaning fixed. There is less scope for extraneous associations. You read more closely to the speed of thought. (Incidentally, this is why we advocate the opposite and use single words in Mind Maps where you want to promote association and generate ideas).

If you are learning to speed read in a course or from a book, please believe me, and believe in yourself. Let go of your fear and push for speed. It will work – I promise!

Best Wishes