Fast Track Learning?
Do you read with a musical background? Over 75% of students in a recent survey
volunteered that studying was linked with listening to their favorite music.
Is there anything wrong with that? Back in the 1970s, a group of Rumanian teaching experts published a report and later a book, that listening to Mozart improved children’s memory.
Recent experiments at the University of Southampton in Great Britain, report that
even mild and incidental noise (music included), cause our pupils to dilate (widen and expand).
Ambient sound causes our eyes to change focus and blur the vision.
Please give us your undivided attention: studying in a library where people whisper
in conversation; listening to Mozart or Rock – and worse of all – listening to Rappers on your earphones – reduce comprehension and long-term memory up to 70%.
You can read but not link and associate original ideas with previous long-term memories. Time passes, but no learning occurs. External sound – voices or rhythmic
music disconnect your attention and plug up your communication sources.
Learning only occurs when there is a focused-attention on comprehension and association of ideas – new with old concepts. Reading must involve Broca’s and
Wernicke’s areas of the brain or you are snoozing. Noise causes a disruption of
When we surveyed executives on their reading habits, they reported reading
while viewing TV, during conferences, and when listening to relaxing music.
Only 20% stated they required total silence and an interrupted segment of time,
in order read important contracts, reports or memos.
The result of testing executive comprehension after reading professional level text was less than spectacular. They scored 70% on basic (12th grade level), reading material comparable to Reader’s Digest; 60% on Semi-Tuff material such as journals or Wall Street Journal articles.
On Tuff-Stuff like financial statements, economic reports, and agreements, the average college graduate executive scored an embarrassing 50% on comprehension and recall.
The Butterfly Effect
How about a small change that produces Massive-Reactions in learning and long-term memory?
Use Earplugs to control your environment. Prior and during your study session, and while taking an exam – do not leave home without your personal earplugs, and use them to optimize your skills. It can produce an improvement of up to 38%.
If you are preparing for a presentation or interview, spend 15 minutes in your own artificial zone-of-silence by wearing your earplugs prior to your entering the room.
In an experiment using earplugs, or no-earplugs – before a presentation or interview – executives subjectively report an enhanced sense of confidence, ability
to communicate, and reduction of stress and tension.
The Butterfly Effect – Small changes lead to massive-reactions, is the work of
Edward Lorenz, MIT. He asked the question about predictability: Does the
flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?
Here we find that the earplugs-group compared to the control-group – performs up to 50% better in communication, self-confidence and reduced stress.
The use of Phonic backgrounds during learning is an urban-myth without any redeeming benefits. Babies do not grow up with the mental prowess of Dr. Einstein
because they are subjected to Mozart in the crib.
It may be counterintuitive, but any consistent sound – chatter, whispered conversations and music (of any kind), lowers your attention and focus on learning, and distorts memory formation.
The solution of living in a zone-of-silence is a non-starter, but the use of hidden
earplugs during reading sessions is a small-change that leads to Massive-Reactions.
Consider using the Benjamin Franklin evaluation – he called it Prudential-Algebra.
List on the left-hand column all the negative-reasons to not use earplugs as previously delineated. One example to consider: your associates will think you – weird. A counter question is: do they pay your annual income?
Your right-hand column consists of all the benefits accruing
from the periodic use of your earplugs during learning segments of time.
Be a scientist and conduct your personal experiments.
Do not be surprised when you meet CEOs of international companies who have forgotten to remove their earplugs. Some claim they function better hearing less of their most common communications; sort of like the delete button on your email.
When you have everything to gain and nothing to lose – test the premise.
Later you may want to recommend earplugs to your team – take full credit, but
suggest learning speed reading.
Would it be a competitive-advantage and place your team on the Fast-Track, to
read-and-remember three books, articles, and reports in the time others can
hardly finish one?
copyright © 2006
H. Bernard Wechsler