Sacramento, CA (PressExposure) July 20, 2012 -- Are your people watching skills ready for this summer? If you ask someone if they can remember a face, even a beautiful face, generally they will say yes, they are accurate most of the time.
"But if you ask the same person to describe a face or remember dozens of faces, they usually start to draw blanks. The problem is HOW they see the face in the first place - and most people just don't look that closely," said Dr. Donna Schwontkowski, author of the Who Was That Person? How to Identify Someone new ebook series, released this month.
"People don't know what to look for, but with face recognition training, faces come alive for the very first time. It's an amazing discovery for everyone who learns my techniques," she stated.
After creating and teaching memory techniques to thousands of postgraduate science students in medical and chiropractic school for over 10 years, Schwontkowski applied her techniques to learn the face and develop a better recall of it. Five years later, she completed a textbook that included how to remember names, the language and science of face recognition for the public, and safety.
But the book was too overwhelming for everyone except motivated college students. That's when she decided to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks of information; and the Who Was That Person? series was created.
Each book in the Who Was That Person? Ebook series focuses on one feature of the face and provides a specific sequence of characteristics to look for as well as noting whether a feature is average or unusual. The estimated reading time for each book is a few hours and the method is easy for children as well as adults to learn. It can easily be applied to people watching.
She taught face recognition to groups and individuals and ran a few pilot studies to make sure the methods worked well. In 2010, she taught 4th graders at Jefferson Elementary School in Sacramento the art of face recognition.
"The students loved learning about the face and it really made them feel confident about their ability to learn," Ms. Courtnay Kaump, their teacher said. "And the methods worked very well. They loved looking at other students' faces during recess."
Then Ms. Kaump and Schwontkowski put the kids to the test. Local police sent in a forensic artist and a "fake criminal" to steal a purse during class.
"The kids wrote down over 20 characteristics after a short glimpse of the face. Their description produced a really close approximation of what the suspect looked like!" Ms. Kaump reported. "The class made the evening news that night with their success. It was a big day for the students and they couldn't stop talking about it. Not only did they have fun, but I believe the experience gave them an incredible achievement that they will use and remember for the rest of their life."
Once learned, face recognition skills are like riding a bicycle; they are yours for life.