Articles on PhotoReading

A Quick Read

by Lynn Keillor
appearing in City Business

The average person reads about 212 words per minute, but Learning Strategies Corp. teaches a way to cruise through books at a clip of 25,000 words a minute.

The company teaches the PhotoReading Whole Mind System, a technique that "goes far beyond speed-reading," said Cheryl Hiltibran, a PhotoReading instructor for the company.

The system attempts to tap both the left and right hemispheres of the brain, as well as the "other-than-conscious brain," she said.

PhotoReading could be used to plow through the New York Times fiction best-seller list, but its really more useful for digesting volumes of nonfiction, technical information, Hiltibran said.

It isn't the same as speed-reading, though. "It's relaxed and focused," she said. "It's more reader-centered," emphasizing the individual's reading ability rather than focusing on the style of the writer.

Results vary, since people come into the course with different reading abilities.

But is it for real?

"Some people believe it is simply not possible, yet we have been licensed by the state of Minnesota in order to teach the class," Hiltibran said. "If the state of Minnesota can review the course and say ‘yes', we've more than passed the test, in my opinion."

Beyond speed-reading
Wayzata firm lifts reading into the Info Age

By Dave Price
appearing in the Lakeshore Weekly News

It's a bit like knowing you have millions in the bank but remembering you left your ATM card at home.

Paul Scheele calls it "document shock"—too many words flooding in and too little time to read them. Knowledge may be power but without a better method to process that wealth of available information, it's just dusty books on a shelf or wasted gigabytes on a computer.

As a college student, Scheele, chairman and founder of Learning Strategies Corp., took a traditional speed-reading class to help him plow through the mountain of materials he faced in his studies. The course was effective enough, Scheele recalls, but then he heard of a handful of speedreaders who raced through books at rates approaching 25,000 words per minute. He wanted to know how they accomplished that feat and his research led to development of the PhotoReading process, which he has marketed through seminars and the sale of audio tapes and books since 1988.

PhotoReading practitioners concentrate on the patterns created by the white space on a printed page and initially remember the image rather than the actual words. They utilize a divergent stare—similar to the gaze used to see three-dimensional "magic" pictures—and flip through 15 to 30, sometimes 60 pages per minute, completing an entire book in the time most readers can finish a single chapter.

Once the images are "recorded," the brain sorts through the stored information much like a computer scans a CD-ROM for a particular word or phrase. The mind is an extremely sophisticated machine and not only will retrieve information from the most recent PhotoReading session but groups it with other knowledge, seeking similarities en route to a broader understanding of the subject.

PhotoReading, he said, works as well for pleasure reading as it does for absorbing vast amounts of technical or work-orientated documents. PhotoReaders don't feel as if they merely rushed through a book, taking in only the highlights—the subtleties a writer uses to tell his or her story are retained through the process.

"The training wheels that got established on our brains when we learned to read have never come off," he said. "So most of us read like we learned in the first or second grade, sounding it out one word at a time. Speed-reading was good because it taught people that they could read using word phrases and move their eyes around the page, seeing more of it at one time. "But that was 50 years ago. There has been a heck of a lot of research since then that's found out we have the ability to acquire information in a lot of different ways, and that the brain is able to pick up and use information that you are consciously unable to process."

Scheele purposely avoids using terms such as subconscious or unconscious mind to describe the PhotoReading process. "People don't want to think that we're honking around inside their heads. They just want to know whether it works."

And apparently, it is.

The PhotoReading Whole Mind System has since been translated into a dozen languages and now boasts tens of thousands of "graduates" worldwide. The firm is licensed through the state as a private vocational school and conducts seminars yearly in Minnesota. Trained staff also hold classes elsewhere in the country and abroad. Scheele initially thought much of his clientele would be business executives or perhaps students seeking a way to better process information or simply to shorten the time they spent reading. But most people who take the class, he said, leave "saying that it's much more than a reading class. It's a course about how to use your mind."

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