By Winnie Wilmarth
published in Lifestyles, The Nonpareil Page 1-C, Sunday, February 5, 1989
It's not often a completely new idea in education comes along.
"American education has spent a lot of time looking for better ways of doing what's been done for the past two hundred years," said Connie Simon, resource teacher for Kreft Elementary School. Certified to teach children who are mentally retarded or learning disabled, she says she "works with students for whom traditional methods are not always effective". The students she has worked with since she joined the Lewis Central School system in September have made encouraging progress. Going from C's and D's to B's. One student ran for a seat on Student Council and won, a real victory for a learning disabled student.
Simon is quick to point out that the students' progress is not due to her efforts alone. The teachers in the regular classrooms also work with the learning disabled as do family members. Simon says she gives her students plenty of positive messages, telling them that success is within their reach. In addition to the curriculum Simon is assigned to teach, she has used portions of a new method of learning she discovered a year ago to help her students.
Referred to as Subliminal Dynamics® by its developer, Richard Welch, the method teaches individuals to use their subconscious sift through and retain large quantities of material. "It's not a new way to learn; it's a way to learn," Welch says. "By using the subconscious, a person can learn from 50 to 100 times the normal rate." One of the biggest advantages the program has for Simon's students is that the learning disability is bypassed. People of all ages, education, and intelligence levels have been successful in learning the methods, according to Welch.
Welch, who has moved his headquarters to Omaha from Phoenix, bought a speed-reading company in 1975 as a challenge. The former financial planner found that the faster his clients read, the greater their comprehension and retention. The average person reads at a rate of 250 words per minute, comprehending about 50 percent of the material. About 90 percent of the material understood by the average reader is lost after 48 hours, according to Welch. However impressive the speed attained by students, follow-up of the company's clients showed that they reverted to their old patterns of reading after three or four months.
"Learning the way we are taught in school, we keep reading until 'it sinks in'," Welch says. "The question we need to ask, is 'Where does it sink to?'." He asked a similar question to speed-reading experts, including Evelyn Wood, in researching speed-reading. As speed increases, the reader is consciously aware of fewer words. According to Welch, fewer are "subvocalized," or formed mentally. Although most people have little confidence in their ability to retain material in the subconscious, that is where the real learning takes place. It is also where 90 percent of our brain capacity is, according to Welch. "We're just barely beginning to understand our capabilities," Welch says.
Subliminal Dynamics® teaches people to bypass the spoken words and take in and recall learning on the subconscious level by a method called Subliminal Photography®. Methods which have been tested at the Stanford Research Institute for four years, teach students to relax and flip the pages at the rate of two pages per second. Thinking of a word or a question will trigger nearly total recall. "The biggest problem with the method is turning the pages fast enough," Welch says. The 85 to 95 percent recall mostly limited to being able to photograph all the pages since turning them so fast results in turning several at a time.
"When you first experience Subliminal Photography®, you have no sensation of reading," he says. Initial exercises include photographing a thesaurus and dictionary. Exercises Welch recommends daily include, use of eye drills, 15-minute relaxation sessions and a "distraction index," a method of deep concentration developed by Albert Einstein, according to Welch.
Welch does not regard Subliminal Photography® as revolutionary. "There is nothing new here. What we are doing is showing how you learn in the beginning - it's a recapturing of the ability we were born with," Welch says. Welch speaks of the possibilities with an unassuming earnestness. He is not out to make a fortune, he says. He already made one in the financial planning business. Apparently Welch is not seeking personal fame, either. Nor does Welch take credit for being the first to develop the basic techniques. An educator taught and wrote a book concerning subliminal learning in the late 1950's, but was dismissed as a charlatan. Welch realizes he too, may be ridiculed. However, he is motivated by a vision of what American society could be like if more people were able to tap unseen inner resources.
In the past, educators and parents have been intimidated by the idea that a child could earn a college diploma by age 12. "People ask, 'how will we put them into the workforce' ", Welch says. "How narrow. They could get several doctorates by the age of 18 -- think of the contribution to society they could make."
According to Welch, once people are able to draw on the resources of the subconscious, there seems to be no limit to what they can obtain. The 7,000 people who have enrolled in his course, typically say they are more aware of things they could not see previously, including subliminal advertising messages. Other benefits include a decreased need for sleep and an improved memory and ability to deal with stress, according to Subliminal Dynamics' brochures.
Welch is expanding the number of cities where the class will be taught to 50 by the end of the year. Believing that as more people are exposed to his methods, the educational system will be pressured into taking them seriously, he is targeting major corporations. Clients include New York Life and U.S. West. The class has been taught primarily on the West Coast.
Simon, whose own son has taken the complete course, says her personal benefits have been tremendous. In addition to reading faster and comprehending more, she now has more self confidence. "It gets people excited about themselves and their potential," she says. "When people realize they use only 10 percent of their brain power, they start to see the possibilities in life if they are willing to go for it."
Although cautious about both implementing the subliminal photography in her class and attributing the progress students working under have made, Simon gives the highest praise to Welch.
"It's just a little early," Simon says. "He probably
doesn't realize what an educational pioneer he really is."
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