chapter  8
20 Pages

Speed reading

In the last century there was a media explosion resulting in a proliferation of printed material, alongside an expanding amount of information on the World Wide Web. Given this increase in the amount of reading material available, it should come as no surprise that some people feel overwhelmed by the volume of information and have little idea or hope of how to get through it all. Of course, not all material needs to be read in the same way. Sir Francis Bacon once said that some books are to be nibbled and tasted, some are to be swallowed whole, and a few need to be thoroughly chewed and digested. However, despite such a rapid expansion in the amount of material currently available, people invariably read in much the same way as they did 50 or 100 years ago, even though many wish to improve the speed of this process. For instance, when Stevens and Orem (1967) asked their students what they would like to change about the way they read information, 95 per cent expressed a desire to enhance their reading speed. In response to such ambitions, there has been an explosion in the number and availability of speed-reading courses, books, seminars, DVDs and workshops aimed at teaching people how to process large quantities of information rapidly.