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Yeahright's avatar

Teaching reading: Where did the term Skimming (speed reading) derive from?

Asked by Yeahright (2522points) November 21st, 2012

Skimming is a well-known strategy for speed reading.
Do you have any idea why this technique is called Skimming as opposed to something else? What association you make of the term and the actual strategy?
I want my students to have something to relate the word to so that it’s easier for them to remember it and not confuse it with, say, Scanning or some other strategy.
Your answers will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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4 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Some waterfowl skim their beaks along the surface of the water in order to gather food…

They are called “dabblers” as opposed to the ducks who dive for food, who are called…wait for it…“divers.”

Jeruba's avatar

And of course there’s the literal sense of the word as it’s used in relation to milk and other liquids.

ETpro's avatar

Having had a speed reading course, I’d guess it has to do with the sense you get that you’re only scratching the surface, exactly as you would skimming butterfat off while milk. You learn to take in a whole line or multiple lines in a single glance instead of scrolling your gaze from start to finish of one line, reading each word and often pronouncing it inside your head before sweeping back to trace the next line. So your eyes skim straight down the middle of the page from top to bottom. It doesn’t even “feel” like you are reading anything. I was amazed to discover that I actually captured more information from the page by speed reading it than I did scanning every word and speaking it in my head.

zenvelo's avatar

That’s what it was called by Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics, who made that technique well known.

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