Last Weekend’s PhotoReading Seminar

by Megan M. on August 10, 2008 · View Comments (Projects) |

I recently made a post in Pavlina’s Personal Development forums because some people were asking about the PhotoReading seminars that Learning Strategies offers, and it just so happened that I attended one last weekend. Of course, y’all knew that, but I mostly talked about my hypnagogic hordes of bugs. Oops.

This particular seminar happened in Dallas (in Addison, which is just north of the city) and was instructed by Millicent St. Claire. I link to her site because she’s fantastic to work with, but I’ll tell you right now that her site doesn’t manage to put across just how awesome she is. It’s a great site, but she is very real and effective in person. She’s also incredibly warm and vibrant, engaging, and excellent at what she does.

The seminar was split into three sessions: Roughly 6p-9p Friday evening, 9a-7p Saturday, and 9a-6p Sunday. I was thankful for Friday’s brevity after my long drive from Austin (I got on the wrong branch of 35 North, so I was on the road about four and a half hours), but Saturday and Sunday I arrived in class super early to play with biofeedback games and talk to people and relax. The classroom was a great environment for anybody wanting to learn something. It was wholly non-traditional, intensely creative, and very focused on accelerated learning right down to the details. There were poignant quotes on the walls, beautiful posters, 3-D stereograms for photofocus practice, cups of rainbow-colored markers, fresh white paper, and scads of brain toys on the tables. (Man, we had a ball playing with those toys.) It was like the best kindergarten ever.

There were rules, too: No stress. Ever. And all that was asked of us was that we open our minds and Do The Thing—skepticism was welcome and invited, so we all felt very free to ask questions and make suggestions. There were even note boards for those of us who were too shy to ask something outright, and Millicent made a regular point of getting to those boards and getting questions answered for the whole group.

There were 38 people in the class. Two of them were younger than me (both pre-college, one several years younger than that) and most of them were older professionals—30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and one at least one septuagenarian with entertaining anecdotes and a great sense of humor. They were all very warm, open-hearted people with an interest in this thing that felt important to me, this thing I wanted to learn well, and that endeared them to me. By the end of the weekend we’d pooled our contact information so that it would be easy to create a post-seminar support structure in the name of helping each other and talking about our PhotoReading exploits. Millicent was very excited and encouraging on this score, and I think that made us even more hellbent on making it happen. I was constantly impressed at how on the ball she was in regards to creative, mindful learning all the way down to the bits and pieces; she a consistent motivator in all the ways that mattered.

Millicent used a whole slew of super-interesting techniques to help us learn. These were widely varied and ranged from neuro-linguistic programming to Brain Gym exercises to visualization and interpersonal conversations (and writing poetry!). These made a huge difference for me, and I made a point of writing many of them down so that I can look into them more in the future. (I will probably be blogging about some of them!)

Many of the techniques we used were not specific to the PhotoReading course itself. I bought the home study course quite awhile ago, so I was particularly curious about how much would be different in the seminar. The answer? Everything but the basics! We did a lot from the course, and all the important things were included, but we learned them in a huge variety of creative ways. A lot of these I had heard of before, a lot of them were new to me—and a lot of them were bits and pieces from other Learning Strategies materials used specifically for learning to PhotoRead. I loved this, because it let me see first-hand how I felt about methods and workshops that I’d been curious about but not ready to test on my pocketbook. (This resulted in me picking up other Learning Strategies offerings while I was there, since I liked some of the techniques so much and had a feel for their benefits—and there were special weekend discounts available to the seminar participants. That was awesome, since I likely would have bought those things anyway.)

I also loved having the opportunity to hear from seminar participants who’d done the seminar before, once and twice in some cases. Some people had incredible personal stories to tell about how PhotoReading has affected their lives and work, and some of those stories were amazing—just knocked me out of my seat. Some of those people were back to brush up on their technique, but after experiencing the weekend for myself I’m pretty sure I’d go again even if I felt completely solid. It only costs $80 to attend and audit after you’ve completed the first seminar, which of course is an excellent marketing strategy, because it makes me want to register again with other interested parties. I’m seriously, seriously thinking about it; it would be a fantastic thing to do with friends or family.

The seminar weekend in its entirety was unbelievably relaxing and empowering for me. I drove home from Dallas feeling really refreshed, proud, confident. There was so much positivity, so much creative productivity, so many reminders to me (and to all the participants) that we are powerful, unique, amazing. I spent a total of $550 to register (a discount because I had the home study course, and a discount because I purchased the registration in July), but if I had paid the full price of $750 I would still feel that it was the best money I’ve spent in a very, very long time. It was absolutely astonishing.

Ultimately I left feeling a) damn accomplished for a beginning PhotoReader! b) completely relaxed and excited to go back to work, like I’d taken a great vacation! c) thrilled with all the neat people I’d met and could keep in touch with, and d) incredibly, overwhelmingly positive about myself and my ability to deal with the world. That last one feels really good.

There’s no way I’ve covered it all in this post, because the weekend was packed full of fascinating experiences and new information. But if you want to ask me questions, please feel free. I love talking about it.

  • sanjay sharma

  • Megan M.
    Sanjay: It does seem like most people are hesitant in the beginning! The difference between the folks who make it and the ones who don't actually seems to be somewhat dependent on whether the person in question can stay really open-minded about the process and believe in the possibility of crazy things (which, really, is what I do for a living - ha!). It also seems like kids have an easier time picking it up, which makes a lot of sense -- but keep in mind, my experience with this program is mostly just my own personal experience; my exposure to other people doing it is very limited.

    There's a book we read at the seminar that was GREAT, and you might want to look it up if you're interested in creative teaching / learning styles. It's called the Power of Mindful Learning<img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;"> by Ellen J. Langer. It's really fantastic, it made me very excited for all the possibilities there are in helping people LOVE to learn instead of just put up with it.

    Good luck!!</img>
  • sanjay sharma

    very nice experience. i can feel your emotion right now. i just purchased the delux version of the photoreading and i am hesitating that can i make it happen but after reading your story i think i can do it.

    i am here to ask you a question. my son is reading in the iv class and ii class. and i wanted to teach them without going any formal way. they is weak in english because english is not our mother toung. can you suggest any way so that i can teach my sons in some intresting way so that they take the intiative to learn.

    any suggestion welcome.


    sanjay sharma, india
  • Pace
    This sounds really awesome! I'm sure Kyeli and I could learn a lot from Millicent about putting together an excellent workshop. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the particular learning strategies that she employed. (:
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