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What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Monday, December 12, 2005

On a hidden accomplishment

When I was in the ninth grade, I was part of pilot program/study to test methods for increasing reading speed and comprehension in high school students. My entire high school was given a reading test. From these tests, a class of volunteers was created that contained one third of the best readers, one third of the worst readers and a mix of “average” readers. Although we lost our study hall period for the year, we were each granted extra credits for participating in a one period per day “reading” class.

I remember that we did a lot of exercises where a word or a random group of letters was flashed onto a projection screen for a fraction of a second. We had to immediately write down what we thought the word had been on the screen. We did what seemed like hundreds of timed tests where we read brief essays on a particular subject. We, then, took a quiz on the subject. A day or so later, we would be given a second quiz to see what we remembered about the essay. Sometimes, we would read lists of randomly placed words and sentences while looking through an eyepiece that supposedly recorded our eye movements. I can recall different groups of adults in suits who would sit in the back of the room each day and “observe”. I developed a real appreciation for the plight of lab rats. Sadly, we were never offered any cheesy rewards for our efforts.

I never heard the results of this study. We were not supposed to know how we were doing during it so as to avoid compromising the final results. I have always been curious about the conclusions. I wonder if they ever did anything with it.

Two years later, the English teacher who had been one of our many reading instructors told me that I had been selected for the study, because I had tested as the best reader in the entire school. She told me this because I had done badly on a “Romeo and Juliet” exam in her Honors English class. I was being scolded for blowing off the test. She said that during the reading class, I had scored something like eleven hundred words per minute with a ninety-six percent comprehension rate. I have always been rather proud of that fact. Although the scores probably had more to do with genetics (my mom and dad were both voracious readers) than any real exertion on my part, I did get to have at least one shining moment at that high school. No one ever knew about it. Too bad I didn’t inherit the gene for throwing a long, spiral pass with a football. That one is never kept secret.

5 Comments:

Blogger Juri said...

I wonder what made you think of that particular story today. :) I love to share my "history" as well. Blogs are great for that.

12/12/05 8:45 PM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

I have no idea where these things come from. I hadn't thought about this for many, many years. When I finally sit down to write an idea out, I have no clue where it will all end. I blogged about my induced inspirations once. http://hcaldwell.blogspot.com/2005/05/on-having-ideas-in-shower.html

That is why I could never make it as a "real" writer. I don't know how people pick a single topic and then actually write a certain number of words about that topic. I am in awe of that ability.

12/12/05 10:03 PM  
Blogger Glory said...

I know exactly what you mean (although I would vehemently dispute that you are not a "real" writer.) The thought of writing hundreds of pages on anything is daunting, and it seems very presumptuous that anyone would ever want to read my blathering.

That's why I love blogging so.

12/12/05 10:20 PM  
Blogger Juri said...

Well, I will say that I look forward to reading your entries everyday. You have a wonderful way of expressing your thoughts in a humorous way. There are mornings that your entries make my day turn around completely because its the first giggle I've had that day.

13/12/05 11:29 AM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

juri-
Thank you. I am always happy to be associated with a giggle.

"Care to our coffin adds a nail, no doubt;
And every grin so merry, draws one out." - Peter Pindar

glory-
Yes, blogging is writing without deadlines, word counts, or paychecks.
(wouldn't mind that last one so much though)

13/12/05 12:11 PM  

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