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How to Train Your Memory

Memorization: Tips for Teachers
June 25, 2019 iteachus

Do You Have a Good Memory?

I like to think I am pretty good at memorization, but, it’s not something I enjoy doing. I first heard of a “Memory Palace” or a “Mind Palace” in the BBC television series Sherlock Holmes. In one of the seasons climactic finale’s we see a man going into a room filled with shelves and shelves of data. There is a winding spiral staircase and everything looks highly organized. It’s not until the end of the episode that we realize, and this is a spoiler, the entire room that we saw on the show was actually only in his mind. While we saw him entering a vast room that seemed to be in the basement of his home, he was actually just stepping into a closet and going into the room in his mind. This is fascinating to me.

I grew up learning how to memorize using songs and mnemonics as well as the occasional acrostic, but I had never heard of a mind palace. When you watch Sherlock Holmes you can’t help but be intrigued by Holme’s genius and deductive reasoning and he is rarely outsmarted by anyone. He himself has a mind palace and the show makes it seem like it is something special, but is it? Do we all have the ability to memorize? I believe we do.

The United States Memory Championship

There are people who can quickly memorize lists of thousands of numbers, the order of all the cards in a deck (or ten!), and much more. Science writer Joshua Foer describes the technique — called the memory palace — and shows off its most remarkable feature: anyone can learn how to use it, including him.” – Feats of Memory Anyone Can Do

Joshua Foer delivers a Ted Talk where he discusses his foray into the United States Memory Championship and how he himself learns the techniques of how to memorize using ancient techniques. He expected to be among a room full of savants and geniuses only to find himself in a room full of average people who had trained themselves how to memorize an entire deck of cards in a matter of minutes. After watching this video, you too will learn a handful of techniques that will help you to memorize large amounts of data through visualization and the power of story.

Mnemonic: A Great Technique for Memorization

When I was growing up I learned how to memorize all the books of the Bible with a song. I also memorized all of the presidents using the same melody. But as I got older I was taught to memorize complex amounts of data using mnemonics. One of the ones that I learned in 1998, over 20 years ago, I still remember to this day: All People Standing Tall Need Dark Pants. This was a phrase I used to remember the first letter of every part of the OSI Model for a computer networking class I was taking. I am a content creator and marketer, but in the late 90’s networking was taking off and I needed to memorize large amounts of data to past tests to become a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

That mnemonic for the OSI model was one of the questions on the test and while I didn’t know exactly what each of those layers did, I did know the parts of the OSI Model and I did pass my test. In the Ted Talk that Josh gives us, the concepts he uses are merely an extrapolation on this same theme. We use things that are easy for us to memorize in order to remember large chunks of data.

Hopefully you find this information helpful and useful as you take test and teach in your classrooms or go throughout your life.

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