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Why Some People Read and Others Don't

March 30, 2011

People for whom reading is easy read a lot.  People for whom reading is difficult don't. This creates two classes of people, the informed and the under-informed.

The informed are on track for success in life.  The under-informed are on track for a difficult life.

I recently met a principal at a conference who told me, "We need to start kids with this kind of remediation tool (RPS) earlier because by the time they are in the fourth grade they have already figured out whether or not they are going to be successful in school and those who are not are joining gangs."  [As a result of my experience with these pre-K through 2nd grade educators, I am developing content to adapt RPS exercises to these earlier grades. - JLB]

I have always been a good reader. In the first grade, I was in the Bunny Group, the group of kids who found reading easy and exceeded most of their peers.

According to scientific studies, natural readers only comprise about 30 percent of the population.  Natural readers may be good readers, but many are not necessarily great readers or what I call performance readers.

I wasn't always a performance reader. For much of my adult life, I struggled with sub-vocal word-for-word reading that caused me to only read what I absolutely had to.  If I were put into a situation that required performance reading such as a college history course in which we had to master 7 thick books in 10 weeks, my reading skills were sorely inadequate for the task.

Since I use RPS often, the quality and performance of my reading has improved dramatically.  When I got up this morning, I picked up a copy of a Valencia College (FL) news magazine.  At first, I thought about putting it down because it would require some effort to look at it and since I am not an alum, I didn't think there would be anything interesting in it.  It turns out that I was wrong and now I'm glad I looked at it.

The magazine had several interesting articles about traveling abroad and about doing business in China.  I even learned that Valencia College just changed its name from Valencia Community College and it "produces more associate degree graduates than any 2-year college in America."  Who knew?

As I was reading this news magazine, I re-realized how valuable and enjoyable reading is for those of us who are performance readers, people who can read anything with ease, where the knowledge seems to flow from the printed page into our consciousness and stimulates our brains in unique ways.  If I had to guess, I would say that performance readers probably make up less than 5 percent of the population.  [I haven't run across any research papers on the percentage of performance readers in the population yet, so if you find one, please let me know. - JLB]

Far too many people will never experience reading in this way!

It is incumbent upon us as educators and developers of education technology to find ways to help people process information in easier and better ways.

John


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