Quick! Read this

Sep 192002
Authors: Jeremy Scurlock

For those who have been neglecting those mounting reading assignments and think all chances of catching up have escaped you, 45 minutes of free reading training might be worth your time.

Fort Collins resident John Sawyer held speed reading seminars throughout the day Thursday.

Sawyer, who has a doctorate in psycho-linguistics, said almost everyone has bad habits in the way they read and can be easily distracted while they read. He says he can teach anybody how to become a faster reader and still an efficient one as well.

“The number one problem I recognize in college students is that the mind is on other stuff, and only the eyeballs are reading,” Sawyer said. “They only have comprehension in easy fiction, not all the different academic areas.”

Sawyer’s speed reading term consists of three two-hour-and-45-minute class periods. He said he gives a one-on-one reading diagnosis to his students, and than works on correcting their problems.

“Most people take a passive role while they read,” Sawyer said. “I teach my students how to become aggressive, curious seekers of information.”

Sawyer said people are trained to be passive readers by reading well-written novels and news articles.

“People are used to comprehension just happening,” he said. “They’re used to being communicated with.”

Junior natural resources management major Laura Jamison said Sawyer’s help tripled her academic reading speed in only two sessions.

“He is very specific for each person, very individualized,” Jamison said. “He can just watch your eyes and mannerisms and give hints to improve. He picks up easily on your bad habits.”

Jamison said she has a slight form of dyslexia and has always been a slow reader. She said the way she looks at words in a text made her slow, but she had no idea she even had a problem.

“He helped me overcome, to focus so it wouldn’t be an issue,” Jamison said.

Sawyer said 68 percent of all readers read 160 to 280 words a minute, the same speed as oral speech. He claims everybody should be able to read faster, as quickly as they think.

Senior economics major Tommi Drum said he attended Sawyer’s free seminar and was sold on enrolling in the fee-based course by his credentials and his character.

“It has the same kind of sensational claims that I’ve heard on late-night television commercials, but with a practicality and realistic aspect,” Drum said.

Drum said he noticed that what Sawyer teaches makes a lot of sense and can be very helpful, but he catches himself not doing it. He slips back into the habits of a passive reader.

“I’ve got to be thinking about what he taught me and do it,” Drum said. “A lot of it is about trusting that you’re not missing something.”

Drum said that rather than toil over a long textbook assignment, he reads it once to get a sense of the material. Then tries to pull things of importance from the text using what Sawyer taught him. He said he reads it over two or three more times, pulling more out and increasing his understanding of the material each time.

“As an English professor, I’m skeptical,” said David Lindstrom of the English department. “It probably does fine in text books, (but) in more sophisticated literature there’s too much you can miss.”

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