When you read the words “accelerated learning,” what comes to mind? A bespectacled “brainiac”? A teenager receiving a Ph.D.? The fact is you don’t have to be a prodigy to experience the benefits of rapid learning.
The purpose of this brief article is to give you a “quick and dirty” look at the subject of accelerated learning; what it is, the keys to making it work, and its exciting promise for the future.
Let me begin by stating clearly that you already have the ability to learn and apply huge amounts of material in far less time than you ever thought possible. Accelerated learning is a natural ability possessed by just about everyone. Unfortunately, most people have “unlearned” how to learn quickly.
Simply, for accelerated or “rapid” learning to take place there are four distinct conditions which must be met for quick and efficient learning of new material:
First, the brain/mind must be “tuned” to an optimal state for learning that reduces stress and opens the brain’s circuits to receive new information. Contrary to popular belief, the optimal “state” is not one brain wave frequency; it is a dynamic range of frequencies and their harmonics.
Second, there must be a method employed to remove the mental, emotional and behavioral obstacles to learning freeing the student to comprehend and integrate new information without resistance. For instance, most proven accelerated learning systems recognize that a healthy self-esteem and strong positive beliefs about one’s ability to learn quickly and efficiently is equally as important as improving study or memory skills.
Third, the information must be “chunked” and presented in such a way that encourages logical assimilation. That is, the information must be broken down into bite-sized pieces that build upon each other.
And last, a supportive learning “environment” must be available to the student. This environment can include such things as freedom from distractions, proper lighting, study material organization, room temperature, and surprisingly, the inclusion of specific ambient sounds which can be far more beneficial than total silence.
It’s important to stop here and draw a distinction between “learning” and “memorizing.” Regardless of the method employed, the key to true accelerated learning is in finding ways for a student to absorb, filter and actually use the information being studied. That is in sharp contrast to teaching methods where the goal is for the student to succeed on a specific test without regard for the log-term retention of the material.
Early study into accelerated learning actually focused on finding new methods of teaching foreign languages quickly. During the 1960s, Georgi Lozanov, considered the father of accelerated learning, created his “Suggestopedia” defined as “a science for developing different non-manipulative and non-hypnotic methods for teaching/learning of foreign languages and other subjects for every age-group on the level of reserve (potential, unused) capacities of the brain/mind.”
In short, Suggestopedia practitioners created an educational environment rich in sensory stimulation through the use of games, music, drama and relaxation techniques.
Recognizing that removing obstacles to learning is also vital, later research by Lozanov, classified as “Desuggestopedia”, defined “desuggestive learning” as removing the limiting beliefs and rules “that restrict intelligence and spontaneous acquisition of knowledge, skills and habits.”
When Journalists Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder introduced Lozanov’s work to the United States with the development of their SuperLearning system in the 1970s, the response was a virtual stampede of learners in search of new brain/mind expansion tools.
About the same time, Dr. John-David, another pioneer in the field of accelerated learning, introduced his “whole brain” sound technology which establishes an optimum mental foundation for learning. Working with sound and subliminal technology, he adapted his research with victims of severe brain trauma to focus on the application of specific sounds and frequencies to accelerate learning, improve memory, stimulate “genius” and eliminate negative behaviors.
The resulting Brain/Mind Expansion Intensive, Ultra Intelligence, and Environmental Learning products produced the perfect range of vibrations for learning, removing blocks to learning and/or creating the perfect external ambient sound environment while studying.
On the subject of “chunking,” Michel Thomas, deserves mention here. Thomas became famous as a language instructor to Hollywood stars such as Woody Allen and Grace Kelly. The underlying theory of Thomas’ work is that, with information restructured or chunked into forms which can be quickly absorbed, many students can gain a rudimentary knowledge of a foreign language in as little as three or four sessions.
Today, well known tools such as “speed reading” programs that adhere to the four conditions mentioned earlier boast reading improvements of 100% to 1000% and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP that teaches a student to “model” then “install” new behaviors until they become an applicable reality are widely used.
Lesser-known but still exciting technologies built on the theories of Dr. Michael Gardner who developed the concept of “multiple intelligences” defined as linguistic, social, musical or logical-mathematical are also slowly finding their way into the mainstream. Instructors of these methods tailor the teaching of new information to the type of intelligence the student exhibits. In that way, the student is allowed to assimilate new information in his preferred learning style.
But, by far one of the most promising areas of accelerated learning is the application of cutting-edge sound technologies to the inner and outer learning environment. Programs of this type combine organic three-dimensional holophonic sounds into distinct frequencies to create specific psycho-acoustic benefit and may or may not include subliminal components as well. Students introduced to these applications as a part of the learning experience have seen significant improvements in their ability to grasp new information quickly.
The study of the mind, and its amazing inherent ability to learn quickly, is one rich with possibility. With an eye to the future, pioneers in accelerated learning technologies like Whole Brain Learning Institute and others are developing new products that effectively leverage non-traditional methods and will kick open the door to the natural, rapid and easy assimilation of larger and larger blocks of information.