Session 3 - Speed Reading Workout
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They’ve already been a few hours in a conversation, which was getting more and more lighted. From time to time, one of them emerged in its thoughts, staying silent, not saying anything. A secretary timidly opened the door and asked if anyone wanted some coffee or water. Actually, she was waiting for a sign from the man dressed in a grey suit, with a black tie and the first button of his shirt undone, a sign in which he allows her to go home. Slightly disappointed, she closed the door behind her. The discussion got lighted again. From the beginning of the meeting there was a slight tension between the participants. On one side, there were those who had to make the product and on the other side of the table were those who had the idea and wanted to exploit it. It was all about a “Speed Reading” instrument, a phenomenon that suddenly caught the attention of some possible investors. Being a fairly new concept, unexplored, it could have been profitable. Nobody talks about anything these days without terms of profitability. The psychologist, who had this idea tried to completely focus on what he knew and what he was good at. He had to explain step by step to the investors what happens in the interior of this instrument called Speed Reading. Next to the psychologist there was a young spokesman, who sometimes smiled ironically when something wasn’t convenient for him. But he was quite elegant and natural in speaking and gestures, things that show he is used to similar meetings. This young man, named Corrin, had the role to find the best links between what the psychologist was explaining, what the programming company had to do and where the biggest profit can be made in the shortest time.
The discussions were often interrupted by the participants. Each of them took notes and a recorder was on the table, turned on. For everybody it was important that this meeting isn’t repeated. Each of them wished to manage to trace the main lines of this Speed Reading project, to understand this phenomenon and to see it’s utility. “Speed Reading can be applied to anyone. It is a base instrument for scholars, a tool for personal development for a normal person and a tool for improvement at the workplace of a professional. We can cover diverse domains, such as legislatives, financial and editorial. Speed Reading means training the eyes’ muscles in order to read with faster speeds. An usual person reads with an average speed of approximately 250 words per minute. At this speed, it takes 250-300 milliseconds for the eye muscles to focalize a word. Imagine that, with training, the eye muscles can reach focalizing times of 50 or even 30 milliseconds. This means a reading speed of approximately 1000 words per minute.” Everyone listened to him attentively, which made the psychologist take a short brake to allow them to digest what they just heard until then and to finish up their notes. “Speed reading can and has to become a phenomenon. Speed Reading is learned by completing daily courses of approximately half an hour in which sets of trainings are made. These trainings are followed by tests to verify the state and evolution of performance obtained by the training.” After this, followed the presentation of the way how the trainings look like. The psychologist had patience and calmly answered every question. He even suggested them to take a test, but before this he showed them a demo text, where they could read a text where the cursor moved independently, similar to a Karaoke application. He explained to them, that the cursor can highlight one word or groups of words up to seven adjoined words that make sense together. The human eye is taught to read abruptly, to jump from one word to another. This is the way people are taught to read and the human eye gets used to it. The psychologist was amused when he saw some of them how they were looking for a text to read. In their mind, it appeared for the first time the understanding of how reading works. Until now, they didn’t think about this and now they found it fascinating. For the psychologist, reading their expressions from their faces was a true delight and it gave him confidence. One of them couldn’t take his eyes from the presentation, he was the boss, the guy dressed in the grey suit. He was sitting thoughtfully, holding his chin between his fingers and stroking his beard which was about one-centimetre long.
The door opened again, the blond hair of the secretary becoming visible, transmitting at the same time a wave of strong perfume scent. She was ready for leaving. She gathered her courage and asked her boss if she can go. This didn’t even look at her. He was concentrating on the presentation. More eyes raised under the eyebrows trying to figure the final of this scene. Suddenly, like if he was waken from a dream, gotten out of a trance, he got up from the chair, strongly holding the chair’s handles, he pushed the chair back, standing up on his feet. Only then he looked at the blonde girl, smiled at her and made short nod, offering her the permission to go home. He remained a few seconds looking thoughtfully at the closed door. It was enough for the psychologist to understand what was happening between them. But all in all, it was something normal. She was a beautiful woman, elegant and he was a strong young man, full of energy, already beaten by the storms of life. This was proven by his partly grey hair, thoughtful attitude, calm, even though he was at an important negotiation. Or maybe it looked important just for the psychologist. No, if it wasn’t important, there wouldn’t have been so many people gathered there in front of him. He decided to continue the presentation, trying to move on from the tragi-comedic moment offered by the secretary. He needed a few moments to remember where he left off with the presentation. “The trainings will be held gradually, progressively increasing the reading speed, just like the number of words grouped.” He was waiting to be interrupted, to be questioned, so he didn’t fear them. Finally, what he was presenting now represented a spear head, an innovation in the field. Otherwise, this was one of the reasons why the software company, the representatives of which sat at his table, seemed very interested in the subject. His intention was to continue with the research in this field, to manage to bring all this to a superior level. He was thinking of applying Speed Reading in diverse domains, to the academic doctor who needed these kinds of studies and new directions of personal development. He was also thinking about how in a social point of view he could modify how reading is perceived by people, how they understand the text and the phenomenon of reading. He wished for the world to exit the chimeric effect of obligatory memorization of thousands of texts. For him, this approach that modern education couldn’t get rid of represents a true millstone, a comeback to previous centuries, heavy steps towards the past. But at the same time, he realized that what is following regarding speed reading and the way it will be implemented in the thinking of society is all up to him and the way the future will approach the tool of Speed Reading.
Now, the question asked by one of the participants, a slightly feminine man, was making a reference at the number of trainings that a user has to make. “Firstly, I have to tell you how long a training is” he started with a strong voice, to get the attention of those in the room. “A training lasts approximately half an hour. There will be distributed a number of four to six texts. As the texts change, the number of words grouped will increase. It will begin with two grouped words, the training ending with seven grouped words. This gradual evolution has the role of preparing the reader to go from reading word by word, to reading two or more grouped words. In that moment, we can truly talk about evolution, about opening new horizons, new perspectives of personal development. We are talking about trainings that can start at a speed of 300-400 words per minute and ending at speeds of 1500-2000 words per minute. Of course, this thing totally depends on the participant’s evolution and the capacity of this to focalize words. Imagine, that you can read 2000 words per minute. This means that you will read a Dostoyevsky in approximately two hours.” The psychologist made a short break to observe the effect that the comparison with the great author’s books had on his audience. Sadly, he remembered that the people in front of him are software engineers, which makes them a group of people for whom life was all about computers. What is more, these people in general were passionate about technology, which lead them towards practical fields, towards futuristic ideas and towards possible future centuries’ ideologies. The psychologist quickly came to the conclusion that Dostoyevsky didn’t have the awaited effect, so he also gave up referencing James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses. He saw the grey-haired man, the company’s director looking at his watch. He realized that it was getting late, the discussion lasting longer than any of them imagined. He had to get to the end and to agree at some point. He thought that for the ending he should throw in some heavy information, in hope of convincing them to agree on a beneficial partnership for both parts.
“Increasing the reading speed is possible by gradually giving up the conditional reflexes that formed while learning to read our first letters. Remember, when you started to read, you did it aloud. As you mastered the ability to read, you started reading in your mind, without speaking the text. I want to let you know, that Speed Reading is possible thanks to this phenomenon. Only a few people know, that when you read in your mind, your vocal chords are still working. The brain transmits commands to the vocal chords to speak the text, this reacts, but at a subtle level. This means, that when you read, the brain has to transmit commands to two separate elements, the eyes and the vocal chords. But the people who manage to cross a barrier of approximately 900 words per minute, will manage to read the text without moving their vocal chords. Only then, will the brain focalize its entire attention towards the visual part, allowing the person to understand what he reads at such high speeds. Only then, can we say that an important evolutionary step has been produced. At over 900 words, a man has access to new horizons. This is where I want to get and with these trainings I guarantee that this is possible.” One of the participants raised his hands mimicking claps. Everyone looked surprised. Nobody thought about this aspect and they looked truly fascinated about what they heard.
An extended hand from the director meant that the collaboration between them has been approved. The psychologist felt like when, after supporting his doctorate thesis, he was felicitated by Neagu Djuvara himself, a man who represented a symbol of Romanians. For him, this moment was more precious than anything in his life. Now, the thought that a tool like Speed Reading can be transformed into a platform accessible for everyone, caused him a pleasant tingling in his body. But he knew that to the success of the presentation contributed in big part the dosage of information about speed reading combined with motivational impulses to make the audience understand the importance and utility of this optimised way to read. He read the faces of people, their hand, their tics, their clothing, their gestures, managing this way to communicate with them and to make them understand this new field of psychology better. Their attention was sufficiently well captured, which meant that those around the table really enjoyed the technique of speed reading and they saw in this tool the evolution of future generations, maybe even their children.