The first time, I read a page in my usual manner—observing and mentally recognizing each word us I proceeded. A "The" received as much visual attention as "obscure" did. ''You", "it", "and" — all were duly recognized as they occurred repeatedly. ' It required 100 seconds for the page.
Again, I took another page of the same book and read by
the process of scanning. My eyes "hopped" along from phrase to phrase,
"airmail route , . . Pennsylvania railroad . . . New York, Philadelphia.
Washington, Columbus . . . transfer . . . 12-passenger Ford tri-motors.
Spun . . . core routes . . . four corners . . . country . , . web . . .
operated . . , 25 companies . . .".
I should not have known it if there had been many omissions of prepositions, articles, pronouns. The perusal was equally successful from the standpoint of subject matter, and it was accomplished in 65 seconds, —two-thirds of the time taken for ths other.
Nor is this an exceptional instance. My own ability to scan is limited. I have not used it sufficiently in order to practice it well. and my natural way of doing anything is deliberate. Depending upon the nature of the article being read, the time easily may be cut down to fifty, forty, or even thirty percent. And this may be done without loss of value of the thought.
I would not have you think, however, that all reading should be done in this manner. Newspapers, magazine articles, current literature may be thus treated. The first quick, comprehensive view of a newly assigned lesson may be taken in the same way, if followed by a more deliberate and intimate perusal.
Upon the other hand, such widely separated materials as technical papers, and specifications, contrasting with fine literature and poetry, have the common characteristic of demanding close and detailed attention. The former are examples of precision and accuracy of thought and statement, with more or less standardized but meaningful verbiage.
The rhythm and feeling of poetry, the subtleties in all fine literature, the grandeur of its great thoughts, all cease to be, to him who races through its pages.
Therefore, learn to read,—but do not read all thing's
in the same way.
A number of years ago I had occasion to request service from a public utility. In doing so, I called at the place of business, and stated my errand. The clerk at the counter answered my questions clearly and satisfactorily and proceeded to "catalog" me. As a part of his records, he desired many items of information as to my address—residence and business, my occupation, etc. His requests for information were made in a rather abrupt and mechanical but positive fashion. He was not mean or arrogant in his manner—just important.
Without stopping to think the matter out, I declined to continue the replies. He was completely nonplused, as well as much irritated. He raised his voice, and demanded of me how I could expect this and how I could expect tliat, if I didn't give them the information they wanted. I said that I failed to see the connection between the service to be rendered and the extended personal data sheet he was making out.
As he harangued me, another man stepped to his side, and listened. He did not interrupt, but when an opening occurred, he quietly remarked that possibly I didn't quite understand the nature of their needs. He briefly explained why they should know my full name, my business, even something of my family, in order best to serve me. It became very evident to me that their requests were not only reasonable, but that they were made in a spirit of service. I "consented" to be mollified, and peacefully gave them all the data for which they asked.
On another occasion, an employee of a company with which our students had been having dealings wished to get into touch with the chairman of the student committee in order to have some changes made in their plans. I was called upon the telephone and asked, without any preliminary explanation, to have the change made at once.
I demurred, not knowing whether or not it would be possible for me to reach the student who was responsible. The person, however, was rather insistent, but finally reversed himself and said, "All right, we'll wait until tomorrow morning."
I learned later that the students were on the point of making the alterations desired, even at the time of my telephone conversation. In fact, they had already arranged with another employee to meet the request. The next morning a different individual called me up and apologized for the necessity for the change, for the "bother" they had caused me, for their inability to accomplish the rearrangement quietly and without all the nutter. He did not criticize or blame any of his fellow employees. He said "We . . .".
But I know which one was boss, and why.