Charlton reviews

Trainer and writer John Charlton leafs through the latest training book to
land on his desk

Many parents will agree with the statement ‘you can lead a boy to a book but
you cannot make him read’. So when I tell my children how every fortnight in
secondary school I had to learn a different poem by heart, they ask: "Why
would anyone want to do that?"

I answer: "Because if I didn’t, and I was unable to recite a verse, I
was caned!"

That was accelerated learning 1960s-style.

New generation accelerated learning must be – apart from the poison-tip
umbrella – Bulgaria’s only notable export. Developed by psychiatrist Georgi
Lozanov in the 1970s, it advocates using a mix of learning modes that appeal to
the full range of senses. The idea being that techniques which bring sight,
smell, hearing, etc into play make learning more memorable.

Lex McKee, a Tony Buzan disciple, expands on this theme in his book The
Accelerated Trainer. But while Buzan fans will appreciate McKee’s weaving of
accelerated learning techniques, others will find it distracting.

And there is much that is distracting about this book, most obviously the
use of cartoons on every page and mind maps at the end of each section. These
draw the eye away from the words, which requires the reader’s full attention in
order to comprehend McKee’s demanding writing style.

He makes assertions, dressed up as fact, which many will find puzzling. For
example, when talking about "clearing the mind for learning", McKee
says: "The process revolves around the natural organising principles of
our working memory. In short, we can only multi-task five to nine concepts or
seven plus-or-minus two (7±2) before our `system’ crashes." Answers on a
postcard, please…

Those who like to probe deeper into the psychology of learning and training
and who appreciate a semi-academic writing style will find much to ponder in
this book. Trainers who are looking for clear and practical advice should seek
out the appendix.

The Accelerated Trainer, by Lex McKee, Gower Publishing, ISBN
0-566-08077-X, £45.

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