An Overview of the History of Accelerated Learning
‘Accelerated Learning’ (or Brain Friendly Learning) is considered unique in the history of innovative learning because of its user friendly methods of imparting skills to the learner. Ever since it was ushered in by Dr.Georgi Lozanov[a] with a humble beginning of teaching English language to 60 and odd students deploying a variety of non-traditional techniques (e.g. use of visual and auditory methods), referred to in the field, as ‘suggestopedia’, it has grown in stature, value and volume. Hence, it is not only natural but imperative to trace its history and this article precisely does that.
2.0: The History:
The objective of Dr.Lozanov was to use the method of ‘suggestopedia’ to enable them to learn faster, in a holistic manner by using both the hemispheres of the brain and he did this by employing a ‘multi-sensory brain -compatible teaching and learning methodology, (Mcken, 1995).
Over a period, a number of academicians, researchers, and professionals engaged in diverse spectrum in the educational training, medicine and psychology disciplines further developed and expanded his ideas. It also found its place in the corporate training that in particular developed in what is today termed as ‘Accelerated. Learning’ which is considered as a cost saving training program producing proven positive impact on those trained (Zemke, 1995). Yet another proven application of ‘Accelerated Learning’ methods is found in training adult students engaged (details given in the course of the article) in accelerated degree completion and graduate programs. Thus, it is all pervading in a human being’s life right from childhood to adulthood and is treated as a way of living.
2.1: Subsequent growth:
At this stage, it may be pertinent to point out that in view of the geometrical like explosion in the growth of the ‘Accelerated Learning’, it would be more useful to look at the concepts in terms of their impact rather than carry out an analysis of linear history of its development.
If Dr. Lozanov is credited with the birth of ‘Accelerated Learning’ in its primary form, there are number of academicians, researchers and practitioners who can equally be credited with the proper nurturing of his theory and development of the same. Gardner’s contribution stresses the notion that human beings are blessed with multiple intelligences which are not amenable for testing, determination or measure by a single standardized test. This obviously meant that according to him it is fallacious to rely on IQ only. Thus, his proposition of eight domains as discussed in one of the previous articles gained a unprecedented popularity and opened the gateway for scientific research.
His theory of Multiple Intelligences could constructively be used to accelerate learning in multiple ways. Werner (1984) further developed it by identifying methods to increase the intelligence and memory. Newer concepts emerged in exploring ways to exploit different intelligences in an optimized manner. Educational specialists like Rose & Nicholl, 1997, explored further ways to orchestrate methods that would translate ‘Accelerated Learning’ into ‘Super learning’. Rose and Nicholl also rationalized the concept by opining that ‘because it is natural, it is easier and faster and that justifies the reason of their calling it ‘Accelerated Learning. All these approaches found scientific validity since they arose because of research carried out on the functioning of the brain.
By late 1980s, the concept attracted considerable amount of scientific interest as researchers believed that it could be applied to other disciplines than education and particularly in the area of medicine and psychology and technology. Its application to Human Relations Management became a foregone conclusion as it related to acquiring and applying skills in the work place. Contributions among others were made by Carlson, (2001), Eysenck & Keane (2000) on the ways the structure of the brain process inputs and the consequently how it influences complex behavior.
In the area of Human Resources Management, motivational literature started to flood the market (Zagier Roberts, 1994). Organizations started to re-classify the work role, functional responsibilities that would reflect the intelligences their employees possess in order to optimize their performance and derive the best possible outputs.
Meier, (2000) had brought out the distinct feature inherent in Accelerated Learning which is social in nature and advanced the theory of ‘collaborative Learning’. He had built his theory on the premise that collaborative learning engages the learners in a process that would collectively solve problems and create solutions. The collective sharing of individual multiple intelligence knowledge would be utilized towards achieving this. In addition, it is presumed to confer a number of benefits which have been listed in our previous article entitled ‘Savy’.
Accelerated Learning Theory’s applicability to adult learning was advocated by Kasworm (2003) by postulating that adult students are competent learners and their prior learning at the time coming into the learning program help them to blend old with new knowledge to find solutions to real world problems.
Anything that is good has to be handled with caution and the developments in Accelerated Learning are no exception. With the advent of the Internet, there has been a mushrooming of sites offering instant fixes. Solutions are different from quick fixes as the difference between the two is the time. Overnight, nothing can be achieved and these sites which offer instant fixes belong to the category which would spoil the names of stalwarts who have spent their life time in creating, testing and validating theories relating to ‘Accelerated Learning’. Hence, the readers would well be advised to use their judgment in differentiating the wheat from chaff.
[a](To refresh the memory of the readers that Dr. Loznov is the Bulgarian psychiatrist who is credited with the introduction of this concept)
Carlson, N.R. (2001): The Physiology of Behaviour, Massachusetts, Allyn & Bacon
Eyesenck, M.W. & Keane, M.T. (2000): Cognitive Psychology, Psychology Press
Gardener, H (1993): Multiple Intelligences, Basic Books
Kasworm, C. (2003): From the adult student’s perspective: Accelerated degree Programs, New Directions for Adult and continuing Education 97(Spring 2003), 17-27
McKeon, J. (1995). What is this thing called accelerated learning? Training and
Development, 49, 64-66.
Meier, D. (2000): The accelerated learning handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Rose, C. & Nicholl, M.J.(1997): Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century; the six step plan to unlock your MASTER-mind, Dell Publishing, New York
Wenger, W. (1984): How to increase Gifted Students’ Creative Thinking and Imagination, Gifted Education Press
Zagier Roberts, V. (1994): ‘Is authority a dirty word? Some dilemmas in idealistic organizations, Journal of Social Work Practice, Vol8, no.2, pp185-192
Zemke, R. (1995). Accelerated learning: Madness with a method. Training, 32 (October, 1995), 93-96.
History of Accelerated Learning – This page was reviewed March 2016