Over the last few days my reading has focussed on acquiring new skills. In a geeky kinda way. As preparation for the new academic year (I’m getting in early, here) I decided the best thing I could do, besides the advance asignments I’ll be set, would be to improve my study skills. I discovered Tony Buzan; my local library has practically all his books as far as I can tell, and I’ve taken several out and have started on Speed Reading, which promises, among other things, to make students of the technique improve their reading speed, comprehension, the way they use their eyes and brains, their vocabulary and general knowledge and overall confidence. Who wouldn’t love all that? It had to come home with me. Also in the collection are books on improving my ‘perfect memory’, writing better essays and even one entitled ‘How to Argue and Win Evey Time’ – and I do so love arguing (but only when I win).

Contained in one of these books were some true life stories of people who had applied Buzan’s techniques and shot straight to the top of their classes with no other training. This got me thinking; is it really possible to increase one’s intelligence? The general consensus from the limited online research I’ve done seems to suggest it is possible. Various studies have demonstrated that certain factors can increase types of intelligence, from eating and exercising to listening to Mozart to simply expanding vocabulary from a few minutes’ study each day. Business people with an extensive vocabulary are supposedly more likely to succeed than their counterpart with weaker vocabularies, although this study is not substantiated. Doing crossword puzzles or sudoku are also credited with enhancing problem solving abilities and of course reading is the traditional method of becoming smarter. But do these methods actually result in tangible, long lasting mental benefits?

I’ve decided I’m going to give them a go and see. First up is the Speed Reading book, as I mentioned. Time is always an issue for students so using less of it to acomplish more seems like a sensible place to start. I’m also going to work on increasing my vocabulary every day and I might even buy a Sudoku book to try. The thing is, I remember feeling like I could do anything at all when I was 17. I was confident in myself and my intellectual abilities, and I have somehow never quite got that feeling back. I want to return to 17 year old me, ready to take on the world and know I can win. If reading books to help me build upon my existing skills can work towards bringing that about then that’s what I’ll do. Watch out Einstein, I’m coming!



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4 responses to “Intelligence

  1. I took a speed reading course at university and got myself up to 650 words per minute, but this is not joyous leasure reading. This is the sort of reading you do when you have one assignment question and 20 assigned books to read in order to make an argument relating to the question. Limitedly useful, but nevertheless useful.

    I don’t really think you can increase your intelligence (based on zero statistical evidence of my own, of course!) but I do think you can definitely increase knowledge, and application of knowledge, understanding, education, training etc etc. I know very poorly educated people with huge intelligence (and vice versa!).

    Let us know how the Buzan experiment progresses! Isn’t that “I can do anything” 17-year old mentality great?! Pity it erodes…

  2. Wow – good luck on the speed reading! Its been a little while since I did any studying, but anything that might help could be worth a shot?

  3. J.S. Peyton

    I have to second Heidijane and wish you good luck with the speed reading! Please keep me informed as to how that works out because I’m an incredibly slow reader and books just keep being piled on! I’ve always wondered just how differently I read from others that makes me read so slowly.

  4. I remember my attempt at learning speed reading. I was reading at about 380WPM and after learning speed reading it went down to 245.

    Now I finish a 300-400 page book in 30 to 90 minutes. 90 minutes is leisurely taking it all in.

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