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Sights in Nairobi, Kenya

This provides an introduction to the sights of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. It seems like an interesting place to check out and explore.

  • Nairobi National Park—one of the highlights of Kenya’s first national park is the black rhino; Langata Road
  • Karen Blixen Museum—the farmhouse where Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, lived between 1914-1931; Karen Road
  • Nairobi National Museum—a museum that highlights Kenya’s heritage through cultural, natural, historic, and contemporary art as well as a snake park, botanical gardens, dining, and shopping facilities; Museum Hill
  • African Heritage House—a national architectural masterpiece home to a variety of African textiles, masks, art, artifacts, crafts, books, and photographs; Mombasa Road
  • David Sheldrick Orphanage for Rhinos and Elephants—a rescue center where you can see baby elephants and rhinos who will eventually be reintegrated into the wild; Magadi Road, entrance at maintenance gate
  • Railway Museum—a museum dedicated to trains with a rhino catcher that Theodore Roosevelt rode in, a carriage where a railroad builder was dragged out the window by a lion, and other rail transportation; off Haile Selassie Avenue
  • Kitengela—a glassworks, hotel, and sculpture garden that has beautiful sculptures made from recycled materials; Glass Lane, Oloosirkon
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Travel Guide Series: Pt. 1: Africa

The first country in this new series to be highlighted is Egypt. I have focused my series on capitals of various countries so the first capital to be discussed is Cairo.

Part I: Top Attractions

  • Coptic Museum—home to the world’s largest collection of Coptic Christian artwork with pieces made of carved stone and stucco, frescoes, woodwork, textiles, manuscripts, icons, and metalwork; 3 Shar’a Mari Girgis
  • Great Sphinx—the world-famous Sphinx attached to Pharaoh Khafre’s funerary complex with a wide viewing platform to get a good look at it; Fayyum Road
  • Mosque and Madrasa of Sultan Hassan—one of the largest Islamic religious buildings in the world with four madrasas for the four Sunni schools of law; Maydan Salah-al-Din
  • Pyramid Plateau—three pyramids built in the 4th Dynasty that rule over the skyline of the desert plateau with the largest being that of Pharaoh Khufu also known as the Great Pyramid; Pyramids Road
  • The Egyptian Antiquities Museum—home to the world’s largest assortment of ancient Egyptian artifacts with more than 100,000 items in total; al-Mathaf al-Masri, Maydan Tahir

The Power of 10

This year is a milestone year in many ways for me and the number ten appears to bee a significant one. Why is that, you might ask? It all boils down to two things—ten years ago I graduated high school and ten years ago I began working at my current employer, Kohl’s. In retrospect I have to admit that the girl I was ten years ago and the woman I am today appear to be polar opposites.

When I was eighteen I was cocky, somewhat obnoxious, and desperate for friends no matter how toxic those friendships could be. Ten years later approaching the end of my twenties I must admit that I am actually more socially awkward and starting to like myself as a person more. The person I am today has been shaped by the events of the past ten years and I feel like 2008 was an entire lifetime ago in terms of personal growth and maturity.

I wish that I could tell that eighteen-year-old that sometimes not fitting in is okay and that you don’t have to try so hard to make friends. I look at that girl in pictures and see someone who was trying too hard to be cool when in reality it was all an act. I see myself today and know that I am more self-assured and comfortable with the core group of people that I surround myself with.

I know much more about life and adulting then I did ten years ago. I pay a lot of my own bills, have my own dental and vision insurance, know how to save and budget my money, and have even paid off one of my student loans. Success for me comes in increments due to the fact that I have a nonverbal learning disability and a chromosomal abnormality.

This nonverbal learning disability affects every aspect of my life including my visual-spatial skills, my ability to navigate spaces, my coping mechanisms, and my ability to develop a social life. The only friends I have are my family members and my co-workers. I have no friends my own age and the only friends close to my age are online and live far away from me.

Despite all of this I must admit that I am very fortunate in the life that I have. I have a supportive and loving family who provides support and encouragement and can take me to all of the places I need to or want to go to. I literally work five minutes away from my house in a store where I am loved and respected by co-workers, managers, and supervisors. I have been the recipient of accolades from customers and my employer including winning associate of the month twice in my ten-year tenure at my store. Did I ever anticipate this ten years ago when I first started working there? No, I must admit that I did not. I had unrealistic aspirations that I was going to go away to college after two years of community college. I now realize that this would have been a mistake because I am in no way, shape, or form prepared for independent living.

When I look at my high school classmates on social media, I see engagements, weddings, children, expensive vacations, and their own homes. Do I want that kind of life? I do not because I like the feeling of being able to live my life on my own terms. I am still a person in a cycle of growth and learning and living a life where I am not judged or ridiculed for any flaws that I may have. I am no longer that young girl starving for attention; instead, I am a woman who knows that attention is earned by the successes in one’s personal and professional lives. I may not work in a job where I am utilizing the skills I learned in college but I am working towards a goal of finding that right job. Right now, I am in a good place where I do not have nasty supervisors and managers and know that I can always address any issues that I have at work with them and have them resolved in a manner where I am not degraded or reprimanded by anyone.

The power of ten is that it is an impactful number. It represents overcoming challenges both personally and professionally and continually learning the skills that I need to succeed in all aspects of my life. It means that I have accumulated a wealth of experiences and wisdom that I can transfer to my next employer whenever that may be. I look at the stressful work lives of my family and am slowly realizing that I have a job that overall is not overly stressful; instead, it is a routine job where I know what to do and how to proactively resolve any issues that I may encounter. It is a job where I am valued and constantly reminded of that by co-workers and upper management. Life is a series of changes and challenges but for now my life is one that is fulfilling, educational, enriching, and so many other positive descriptors. A decade is a long time and I hope that the next decade brings even greater rewards and accomplishments in my life and the lives of my family members.image1v2

Succeeding at Work with a Disability

Sometimes I have to be reminded how truly fortunate I am to have a job with a flexible schedule and managers who seem to get me despite any quirks I may display. I have worked nine years at a major local department store and have thrived there even though I have a diagnosed invisible disability called nonverbal learning disability or NLD. NLD affects me in many ways in the workplace including:

  • Having difficulty with interpreting tone of voice
  • Finding it hard to interpret facial expressions, body language, and gestures
  • Understanding inferences and sarcasm
  • Displaying executive functioning issues such as planning and time management
  • Becoming stuck in routines

 

These issues have impacted me in my current job but with support from my family I have managed to compensate for these difficulties by demonstrating that I can work well independently with minimal supervision and knowing that I can always ask for help if it is necessary. Sometimes people wonder why I still work in the same place I have worked at since I graduated high school and my answer should really be that it is close to home and a place where I am understood and appreciated. You don’t always find that in a job.

I have succeeded at the store I work at mainly because my immediate supervisors and managers know that I am a very hard worker who puts 110% into everything I do and follow orders when given. I do not fool around or break any rules while working. I am punctual and efficient and credit this to being taught these principles at home. I am an example of someone who has demonstrated that a disability only holds you back if you want it to and that having a strong support system is key to overcoming any obstacles that come your way whether it is at work or in your personal life.

I am a reminder that you can flourish at work even when you have a documented disability and that by understanding your limitations you can accomplish anything you want to while working. Never give up on your dreams and work beyond your potential. You truly can be a superstar no matter where you are employed if you prove to your bosses that you are reliable and won’t do something stupid that will jeopardize your position within the company.

A Frustrating Process: The College Graduate’s Job Search

I graduated four years ago from a well-known local university and have yet to obtain a full-time position utilizing my degree. I have 1.5 years of office experience from working as the assistant to the president of a nonprofit organization but this experience has not helped me to acquire another position doing similar work. It is truly one of the most frustrating and difficult ordeals to go through and I hate that so many jobs that seem perfect require more experience than I have.
I know that I am not the only college graduate I know who struggles with finding a job. I am fortunate enough to have a retail job that I love and will have worked there eight years this coming July. I am just so sick of living paycheck to paycheck and wish that things could change for me. I keep searching regularly but so far nothing has really come out of this job search process.
What makes my job search process unique is the fact that I have a disability which impacts my ability to go places independently. I am unable to drive because of the physical aspects of my disability so distance plays a factor in the job search. I not only have to consider the required experience of a particular job but also the distance from home.
I know that I can always do freelance work but I truly desire an office position where I can meet new people and develop strong and lasting professional relationships. The right job must be out there for me and I pray that a good opportunity arises for me in the near future. I apologize for the rant but this is something that has become a real source of anxiety for me and has led me to question whether I will ever get a full-time job.
What I have decided to do though to improve my chances of getting a full-time position is to start taking courses related to what I learned in college to brush up on my skills and knowledge of communications media. I believe that this will enable me to remain up to date on the rapidly evolving world of media and since I have always loved learning I think this will be perfect for me. I am starting this return to starting courses by working on a specialization in social media marketing taught by professors from Northwestern University. Since social media is one of the most prominent types of media out there right now I feel that this will really help me to learn more about this popular media outlet.
I hope that in writing about my frustrations in finding a full-time job others can relate to me and possibly share their own experiences about the job-hunt process. You can definitely become a more well-rounded person by taking classes related to what you wish to do in the future and remain grounded in the world that you were immersed in during your college years. Please don’t consider giving up your job search because eventually the right opportunity will arise for you.

Life is an Adventure

I’d like to think that every day could be considered a new adventure. You never know what surprises lay in store each day and that precisely is what makes me wake up in the morning. It’s not always about the money for me. I’m driven by looking to see what each new day will bring to my life.
Life’s adventures can be the simplest of things—a drive with family and friends, a nice dinner out, or even taking the time to learn a new skill. Believing that every day is an adventure is a core belief of mine and I think it’s a good reason to keep on living. I’ve had my share of psychological issues but from what I’ve learned over years of therapy is that every day is a new tomorrow and that even when bad things happen, good things are still waiting on the sidelines.
Take the time to savor each sunrise and sunset and think about what your life’s motivation is. What is your passion in life? Could you simply be a great life coach and mentor who enlightens others on the wisdom you have gleaned over the years? I believe that finding your passion in life is crucial as it adds a sense of meaning and purpose to your being.
Try to avoid the negative influences in your life and those who will try to bring you down. They will only sap your energy and make you less motivated to get through each day. You will feel much better once you are rid of them because your self-esteem and sense of self-worth will improve.
Remember that you are a special person who can contribute so much to society. Dream big and shoot for the stars. Stay close to the people you hold dear and never let them go. They are the ones who will always be in your cheering section and inspire you to keep going. I want you to believe that you are worthy of positive things and that even when things seem to be really bad, you won’t give up on yourself. Find an outlet to express your feelings as this will cleanse away the demons that seem to haunt you.
I want you to not plod through each day and think of your days as meaningless and mundane. Try to do something exciting and out of your comfort zone. Take classes and learn how to do things you’ve always wanted to do. Go for a walk and see what you discover during this break in your routine. There is so much out there waiting to be discovered.
Remember most of all that every day is a new adventure. I can’t say this enough. Go somewhere you’ve never been before if you have the time. You will be glad that you did. You will marvel at the world around you and maybe even consider trying to change what you don’t like about your environment.
Never stop believing in yourself and your potential. You are someone who will be great and do amazing things. I’ll be rooting for you each leg of your journey. I’ll never stop caring for you and thinking that you are someone special. Don’t let someone get you so down about yourself that you forget what makes you beautiful. You are important to the world and I know that you are extraordinary.
I hope that whoever reads this will realize that they are beautiful inside and out. My one wish is that people who read this find a sense of self-validation and come to the realization that every bad day leads to a new and brighter tomorrow. This is something my mom told me years ago during a dark period in my life and it still resonates with me today.
Take the time to reflect on your life and see what needs to be changed or improved. Do one new thing every day and I promise that you will not regret it. I’ve taken the time to contemplate my life lately and I’ve come to realize that change is indeed possible. I’ve grown up so much over the past few years and tried to cut myself loose from anything holding me down and stopping me from living the life that I’ve always imagined for myself.
Life is certainly one of the most epic adventures you can ever go on. It is full of action and excitement. It is stimulating and amazing. Your journey through life can be quite powerful and perhaps even change the world. I want you to believe that this is possible and don’t give up on living.
My plea for you is to think about what makes you wake up every day and what your motivation for living is. If you’re really down and thinking about hurting yourself, please try to get help. Help is available and there are people out there who can help you to cope with the feelings of negativity that seem to pervade your existence. I’ve received support over the past few years from therapists that have made me feel better about some of the bad experiences I’ve had.
Stop for a moment or two each day and think about the positive attributes of yourself that make you unique. This is a very cathartic exercise that will enable you to feel so much better about yourself. I journal on a daily basis and this has helped me express my feelings about what has made each day good or bad.
Maybe this piece will help you to go out and live a life that is beautiful and meaningful. I hope you know that I will always be rooting for you. I think that reflecting on the meaning of your life is something that is worth considering and will help you power through each day. Wake up every day and think about all the good things on the horizon. You will feel so much better when you consider each new day a blank slate.

How to Deal with Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a problem that has plagued writers for years. I am almost positive that even the most successful and prolific authors have had bouts of writer’s block over the years. The issue though is how to handle this when it arises. I’m still figuring out my strategies of coping with this but here are a few tips when you’re lost for words:
• Put the difficult piece you’re writing aside for a bit and focus on something else. You may come up with ideas for the harder piece when you’re writing or doing something else.
• Do some writing exercises or writing prompts. These may trigger a burst of creativity and lead to some unexpected writing from you.
• Write when you’re most alert and awake. This will allow you to have more creative energy and be able to really focus on the project at hand.
You have to realize that every writer at some point will struggle with a piece that they’re trying to put on paper. Words don’t always come easily and when they finally do come the words may not be the ones you envisioned in your head. Sometimes the words you do end up writing though may be even better than you imagined they could be.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to your writing. No one will think any less of you because you can’t expect to churn out words all the time. I know I certainly don’t. When the time is right the words will come to you and you could end up writing something quite beautiful and powerful.
Believe in yourself and your ability as a writer and come to terms with the fact that writing is a craft. It takes practice and creative and mental energy to compose great works. Try not to become overwhelmed when confronted with a writing project as this will only hinder your productivity and ability to write.
Other writers have provided advice over the years for coping with obstacles writers face including writer’s block and here are some of their strategies for confronting this issue:
• Maya Angelou wrote: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks “the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.” And it might just be the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”
• Neil Gaiman agreed with some of the strategies I wrote earlier and added: “Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see something you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time.”
• Anne Lamott, author of writing books such as Bird by Bird, stated: “I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of something written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing—just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because they have made a commitment to try to write three hundred words every day.”
• The legendary Mark Twain had good advice for struggling writers when he said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
• Orson Scott Card had some great advice for those coping with writer’s block and stated: “Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me. Then I can go on. Writer’s block is never solved by forcing oneself to “write through it”, because you haven’t solved the problem that caused your unconscious mind to rebel against the story, so it still won’t work—for you or for the reader.”
These writers are some of the successful writers around and their advice is incredibly helpful for those who wish to pursue writing as a profession. Writing is a communal exercise and with the insights these authors have provided, you may find the will to keep on writing and get your creative juices flowing. You may not become the next Hemingway or Twain but you may surprise yourself with what you’re able to produce when you’re in the right frame of mind.
I hope that the advice I’ve provided has enabled you to continue working on the more difficult writing tasks in your life and allow you to forge ahead. You will be grateful that you did because the world needs to read your work and wants to learn from your life experiences. Whether you are writing for fun or for profit you will want to be able to keep on writing the best things possible for your audience. Writing can truly be one of the most cathartic activities around which it has been for me and I definitely struggle with it but I believe that eventually I will power through and write something poignant and meaningful.
Writer’s block will never completely go away but it will improve the more you write. You will be able to dream up new ways to express yourself creatively and be eager and enthusiastic about the writing you’re about to do. Most of all you will be creating a sense of pride at what you are able to accomplish with your writing. It can be one of the most rewarding things that you can ever plan to do in your lifetime. Never give up and remain determined to write things that will mean something in the long run.

In Defense of Online Learning

Online learning has become a significant factor in education in recent years. Students of all ages can be enrolled in e-learning programs and learn on the same level as their peers or even at more advanced levels. It is truly an innovation that I feel will continue to be more popular as time goes on.
I have been enrolled in online classes since my freshman year of college and while it requires a good degree of self-discipline, it is an investment that you won’t regret. You can do the class on your own time at your own pace and if enrolled in an online class through your local college or university you can still ask your instructor for assistance if necessary. There are discussion forums where you can engage in conversation with your fellow students and discuss topics that have been brought up in the class you are enrolled in.
Some may feel that online learning may affect the idea of the traditional learning environment. I can agree with these detractors in some respects as there is a benefit to learning in a physical classroom that can be both academically and socially advantageous. Some students are only able to learn in a classroom where there is enough assistance for them to succeed in the class.
I can attest that online learning has become one of my favorite ways to learn. I love the challenge it brings to my life and the ability to take classes taught by professors at prestigious colleges and universities. There is a wealth of free online courses available from reputable institutions of higher education that cater to every interest. Some popular websites to find online courses are http://www.coursera.org, http://www.academicearth.org, and http://www.edx.org. These websites offer free online courses from colleges such as Duke University, University of Virginia, Harvard, Yale, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania among others.
While the idea of taking an online class can be daunting to those who have never tried this type of academic experience before, there are ways to overcome your anxieties and fears about e-learning. Some helpful tips include:
• Finding a comfortable quiet environment free of distractions where you can take time to focus on what is being taught to you
• Setting a daily schedule for yourself so you can arrange your time to keep up with the class and its assignments
• Taking the time to connect with fellow students for assistance in discussion forums
• Discussing topics that have been presented to you with family and friends
While I would highly recommend online learning I do understand how it may not work for everyone. However, I feel that courses from the websites I previously referred to make higher education free and accessible for everyone regardless of their financial situation. That is something that makes this type of learning experience a beneficial one.
Tom Snyder, the president of Ivy Tech Community College, wrote an article for the Huffington Post about the benefits of online learning and stated:
“I believe that online learning has the potential to revolutionize higher education. Students will be able to learn at their own pace and problems as simple as finding a place to park on campus will be eliminated. Public colleges and universities simply cannot build new facilities to accommodate all those who need credits in higher education.”
There is a professional benefit of being enrolled in online classes as well. You can earn academic certificates that can make your resume more attractive to potential employers and make you an asset to their company. Snyder commented on this when he said, “Lifelong learning must now be a part of everyone’s career plans. In today’s job market, taking online courses help workers remain competitive and they don’t need to take time off from their jobs to do this.”
He added, “Online learning not only trains the workers of the future, it can also provide a career path for someone employed, who needs to learn new skills. Employers should recommend online courses that will help with career advancement and, if possible, offer tuition reimbursement.”
The Open Education Database enumerated advantages of taking online classes and I can agree with some of them. In a 2012 article they mentioned benefits such as a variety of programs and courses, lower total costs, more comfortable learning environment, and convenience and flexibility. With online classes you are able to learn whenever it is the best time for you and do not have to worry about commuting to a physical school. You can enroll in one of the hundreds of free massive online open online courses (MOOCs) that can help fulfill general education requirements in a more affordable way.
Is online education a good choice for everyone? I would have to say that it is not. Some students may not feel like they have the discipline to handle an online class on their own. They may need to be present with instructors and classmates so that they can stay motivated and focused on the coursework. Some segments of the population such as individuals with disabilities may need to have access to services that are simply not available in online programs such as extended time for tests and one-on-one help from teaching assistants or learning assistants.
However, I feel that online education is a phenomenon that will continue to grow and improve as time goes on. Colleges and universities have dedicated support teams to assist students enrolled in their online classes so that students can turn to these teams for technical assistance. New tools and applications are being added to these online classes to make them more interactive and accessible for different types of students and learners. I have learned so much from the online classes I have completed and it has enlightened me on topics that I can apply to the professional world. Online education is an innovative way to learn and allows even economically disadvantaged students to enroll in college classes from institutions they simply could not afford to physically attend.

The Art of Reading Faster

Reading is a favorite pursuit of many but it can be daunting when faced with lengthier novels and assigned academic reading. How is it possible that some people are able to read this kind of material faster than others? Is there truly an art to speed reading? This article will explore techniques that instruct readers on how they can perfect this sought after skill. Let us begin on a journey that will help you to become a great speed reader.
One article entitled “How to Learn Speed Reading” that can be found by visiting http://www.wikihow.com/Learn-Speed-Reading gives a step by step guide to increasing your productivity while reading. The first step proposed is to stop visualizing the spoken word and focus on blocks of text. The second step is to hold the book or screen at a distance as you read to absorb more text at once. Once you have mastered these steps, progress by hiding words you’ve already read so you won’t be tempted to re-read them to understand the context better.
A key part of an efficient reading experience is to read without distractions in a space that is quiet and well lit. Posture is essential as reading while in bed can make you more tired. Additionally, you should try to read at a time when you’re most awake and focused. Concentrate on the most crucial aspects of the text first and ask yourself insightful questions about what you’re reading to stop yourself from daydreaming or becoming distracted by your thoughts.
Even when practicing these techniques, you should try to understand the different types of reading and practice good reading techniques such as carefully reading instead of skimming to understand more difficult parts of the book you’re reading. When you’re practicing these steps, try reading an easy and light book first so you won’t have to think so deeply about the material. You should time your reading speed by perhaps setting a timer and seeing how much reading you can do in a set amount of time. When you encounter a text such as a magazine or newspaper, look at the section headings and headlines to see what you want to read and what you already understand.
Another article written by the Student Counseling Service at the University of Chicago that can be found at http://counseling.uchicago.edu/page/speed-reading-method presents some techniques that have already been mentioned but also suggests using a pen to guide your eyes as you read. You can begin reading at your normal pace and mark where you left off before re-reading the same passage for a minute at a faster speed than before. It has you reiterate this step by reading three times faster than your slowest speed and then asking yourself how much you remember from the passage. The counseling service recommended practicing this process for 10 minutes a day for two weeks to become more comfortable with the art of speed reading, increase your reading speed, and improve your understanding of the text.
A speed reading expert, Dr. Richard L. Feldman, from Columbia University wrote a 10-step article entitled “Speed Reading: 10 Tips to Improve Reading Speed and Reading Comprehension” found on http://www.learningtechniques.com/speedreadingtips.html. His ten steps are as follows:
1. Read earlier in the day when you are most awake and can maintain focus on important material.
2. Organize your reading materials by their degree of importance and then read the material in the order of importance. This will help improve your reading speed.
3. Skim for main ideas in nonfiction books by scanning the table of contents and beginnings and ends of each paragraph. Understanding the book’s structure will help you to know which parts to skim and which parts require more careful reading.
4. Turn headings and subheadings into questions to ponder and then examine the text to find the answers to these questions.
5. Use a bookstand and have your book angled at 45 degrees to avoid straining your eyes.
6. Write short notes after reading letters and then refer to these notes when you’re ready to reply to the sender.
7. Avoid highlighting key portions of the text as this will not improve comprehension of the book.
8. Preview the text before beginning reading.
9. Adjust your reading speed to the type of reading material and purpose for reading.
10. Enroll in a speed reading class taught by an expert on the subject.
Glendale Community College wrote a five method primer on self-pacing while speed-reading. Their primer is on its website at http://english.glendale.cc.ca.us/methods.html. The five methods are named “The Hand”; “The Card”; “The Sweep”; “The Hop”; and “The Zig-Zag.”
“The Hand” is a method that has the reader place their right hand on the page and move it straight down the page so you move your eyes down as you read. Do this at a slow and even pace.
“The Card” technique has you use a card or a folded piece of paper above the line you are trying to read and draw it down the page slowly and evenly and try to read the passage before covering up the words. Slide the card down faster than you can go.
“The Sweep” has you use your hand to draw your eyes across the page. Cup your right hand and keep your fingers together. Using a light and smooth motion, sweep fingers from left to right underlining the line with the tip of your finger. Use your whole arm to move and balance on your arm.
“The Hop” has you lift your fingers and make two bounces on each line. Each time you bounce, you hopefully will read sets of three or four words. This makes it easier for you to keep a steady pace as you read.
“The Zig-Zag” has you take your hand and cut diagonally across the page for three lines and then back to the text. Scan the entire page and pick out the main ideas.
According to a 2012 Forbes article that published the results of a speed-reading test sponsored by Staples as part of an e-book promotion, the typical speeds at which we read and understand at different points in our educational development are as follows:
• Third grade students—150 words per minute
• Eighth grade students—250 words per minute
• Average college student—450 words per minute
• Average “high-level” executive—575 words per minute
• Average college professor—675 words per minute
• Speed readers—1,500 words per minute
• World speed reading champion—4,700 words per minute
• Average adult—300 words per minute
The article’s author then put these rates into context by applying them to typical reading materials of very successful businesspeople. For newspapers and blogs, at the average adult speed of 300 WPM you would spend 33 minutes a day on that part of your reading routine.
For magazines with an average length between 60 and 150 pages, you would spend 75 minutes reading one magazine and successful individuals normally read about five magazines per day. For them, the reading time over a course of a month would be 50 minutes a day. For books with an estimated word count of 100,000 words and the goal to read one book a month, that comes to 11 minutes a day at the average adult reading speed.
Factoring all of this in, you could easily spend at least two hours a day reading at the rate of 300 WPM. For more of the author’s insights on this topic, visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/brettnelson/2012/06/04/do-you-read-fast-enough-to-be-successful/ .
The Staples speed-reading test can be found on http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/technology-research-centers/ereaders/speed-reader/.
One reader of this article gave her tips for speed-reading which included reading in phrases rather than word by word and learning to skim the article for its core concepts. The layout of the article would also impact how fast you are able to read it.
Another insightful commenter mentioned that absorbing more useful content could be obtained by listening to the news as you drive to become well-informed and able to reference important stories. You could also listen to audiobooks at the maximum volume to cram more content into a busy week.
One reader mentioned that there should be some scholarly analysis into how reading speed correlates with typing rates as many individuals spend a good part of their day typing. She compared the speed of listening to a book on tape versus reading it in print and then compared this to how fast that text could then be transcribed by writing or typing. She found that reading and typing at the same time averaged out at between three and four times faster than the typical speaking rate of a book-on-tape reader.
An interesting article that criticized the outlandish claims of some speed reading instructors and courses was published on the website of the Skeptic’s Dictionary at http://skepdic.com/speedreading.html. One of these speed reading instructors, Howard Berg, author of Speed Reading the Easy Way, claims that he is able to read 25,000 words per minute which is about 80-90 pages a minute. A professor at UC Berkeley, Anne Cunningham, examined test results that measured eye movements while reading that determined that the maximum amount of words a person can read accurately is about 300 per minute. People who claim to read 10,000 words per minute are really just skimming the material.
The author of the article believed that a better way to increase reading speed would be to enroll in a community college course that would improve study skills, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. It would certainly cost less than a speed reading course such as the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics course.
The Evelyn Wood speed reading course is a very well-known program with techniques that have been practiced by US presidents including John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter. John F. Kennedy had Evelyn Wood instructors teach top-level staff members how to increase their reading speed as did Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter took the course and was able to reach a 1,200 word per minute reading rate with a high comprehension rate. The techniques of the Wood program which was acquired by Encyclopaedia Britannica were explored in a comprehensive book entitled “Remember Everything You Read: The Evelyn Wood 7 Day Speed Reading and Learning Program.”
One technique mentioned was the visual-vertical approach which involves eliminating vocalization of words and replacing it with a visual perception of the material that entails sweeping the eyes vertically down the page. The book stated that the full emotional impact and intellectual understanding of most passages in books is enhanced with the visual-vertical approach to reading.
Another technique is the multiple reading process or layering technique which involves seeing and accepting words and phrases out of their expected order. The layering technique is a five-step process which includes:
1. Overview
a. Quickly skimming the book to determine its organization, structure, and tone
b. See what the cover and jacket state about the contents and author
c. Examine the preface and introduction if there is one
d. Flip through the pages at about one second per page
2. Preview
a. Read at about four seconds per page to draft an outline of the details of the book.
b. Divide the chapter you are reading into sections if it is a nonfiction text. If the work is fictitious, you can preview the book by identifying main characters, setting, time period, and general direction of the plot.
c. Look for key facts and concepts paying close attention to the introduction, summaries, and questions posed by the author.
3. Read
a. Preview the first subsection in a nonfiction book and read that section at your fastest comfortable reading speed and make notations to pinpoint important or difficult material to study later on. This will help you to remain actively engaged with the book.
4. Postview
a. Review the entire reading assignment and think about the relationship of each part of the book to the whole.
5. Review
a. Regularly try to remember what you’ve read and see how it relates to other course materials
It is evident now that there are a variety of techniques for reading faster and with practice perhaps you could also become a great speed reader. Try to remember though that speed reading shouldn’t replace savoring the experience of a good book. The various ways to speed read could certainly apply however to lengthy assigned readings for academic courses. Hopefully this article has allowed you to understand the methods of speed reading and helped you to determine whether speed reading is a skill that you wish to perfect.