Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Speed Kills Literature

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Speed Kills Literature

Article excerpt

The lesson was going well until I suggested silent reading. The students looked up, horrified. Most of them would rather prise moist chewing gum off their desks than open a book. Since their idea of extended reading is whatever's trending on BuzzFeed, the prospect of studying a novel filled them with utter dread.

So you would think I'd be overjoyed to hear that someone has invented a sexy new reading app. Maybe Spritz could be the philosopher's stone that transforms reluctant readers into voracious bookworms. Its claims are certainly impressive. Spritz radically improves reading speeds by placing the letter that helps us to decode a word - the orbital recognition point (ORP) - in the same position in front of the eyes each time.

Apparently, the average person spends just 20 per cent of reading time processing content and the rest trying to locate the next ORP. Or, if you happen to be one of my students, 20 per cent of the time gazing longingly out of the window and the rest waving Of Mice and Men in the air, yelling "Miss, I've lost my place". By streamlining ORP identification, Spritz helps users to clock up reading speeds of up to 1,000 words per minute, making it possible to read a novel in an hour and a half.

In theory, I should embrace such innovation; surely anything that improves the nation's reading skills has to be good? But like Mrs Doyle in Father Ted, I refuse to give in to the new. When the housekeeper is given a tea-making machine for Christmas, she sabotages it with a knife because she is addicted to the sensuous art of making a brew. …

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