Planet China

Read, at speed

Most of us can read at a pace of about 200 words a minute. Scientific evidence of the merits of speed-reading are generally lacking. Most of the techniques involve getting words more efficiently to the centre of the retina. Some practitioners claim they can get through a 1,000 words a minute, which means finishing the Bible in 13 hours.

An education training centre has stoked nationwide attention this week with claims that it can teach children to read more than 20,000 characters in 60 seconds. Known as “quantum wave speed reading”, Beijing Xinzhitong Qiguang Education purported the technique was developed by a Japanese educational firm. In a promotional video that has gone viral – it has been watched more than 150 million times – young kids are shown in a speed-reading contest flash-flipping through a textbook. The film concludes with parents saying their children are deploying the method to complete their reading homework in just a few seconds.

Understandably, the “quantum wave” method has sparked ridicule from scientists and educators, with some going on record on state-run media to describe the speed-reading technique as “utter bullshit”. The school in Beijing has backed off, denying that it was promoting the technique and suggesting that it was a victim of a fake video.

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