A quicker way to the bottom of paperwork

25th April 2003 at 01:00
For teachers faced with endless piles of policy and curriculum documents and reams of consultations on consultations, the time spent wading through impenetrable bureaucratic jargon can add up.

But there is a way out from under the paper mountain according to a former psychology lecturer. Bill Bailey is offering to help teachers reduce the time spent reading jargon-ridden documents in a two-day speed-reading workshop.

Mr Bailey, who previously taught at London's Institute of Education, said:

"Every adult is a slower reader than they could be. Many jobs involve more reading than people have time for."

The initial reading speed of course participants varies from 150 to 400 words per minute. By the end, most are able to read twice as quickly.

But speed alone will not solve the problems of the teacher attempting to internalise bureaucratic jargon. First you must first work out what it means.

"Reading and writing are the flip sides of one another," said Mr Bailey. "I used to read academic books and think, 'The ideas here are interesting but I'd like to edit it so the meaning comes across'. You don't need sentences that are 20 miles long."

Mr Bailey also runs a writing course, in which he attempts to persuade academics and bureaucrats to discard tautology. Among his regular clients are local government workers, civil servants and academics.

He said: "The word 'located' crops up everywhere - 'the tap is located under the sink'. You could take out 'located' and the sentence is no worse.

In fact, it's better."

Mr Bailey acknowledges that the loss of incomprehensible jargon will reduce opportunities for those incredulous water-cooler comparisons. But, he adds, this is a minor disadvantage: "Imagine an organisation where people wrote half as much and it came off the page in twice the time. You could manage your load much more effectively."

Stratford Management Training: 01926 842681

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