Ever had a word or name that was on the tip of your tongue, but you couldn’t recall what it was? Ever walked into a room and then wondered why you came here?
Chances are, everybody reading this post has ever had their memory fail them or not working so well. There are seven steps that, when taken, can help us to remember anything better.
1. Reach and teach
Be in the present. IF you are learning something that does not mean anything to you, chances are, you will not only forget, but you will zone out in class as well. If you want to remember a name, find out more about that person and associate this person with their interests, hobbies, work and other interesting bits of information. Try to find something in common because if you are interested int he same subject or hobby, then chances are more likely that you will remember this common interest with this person. This is also important when you are studying, self learning or teaching yourself.
Even if you are your own student, don’t assume that you’ll be a good student who always listens and can take in all the information. You need to teach yourself in a way that allows you freedom to enjoy what you’re learning and relate to the material as well.
This is not only step 2, but reflection is within every step of memory. Reflection is an important step towards memory because you are doing several of the memory steps at once. First, you are reflecting. Then, you are recoding-writing about what you have learned in your own words, and rehearsing. Rehearsal is a much later step but certainly does happen when reflecting. You are practicing what you’ve learned.
Reflection is a chance to digest the information, all that you’ve learned and everything you have done. It is a way o find out what you have learned, any questions and any concepts or information that you are unsure of.
It is crucial to a good memory, that you are able to recognise and then iron out any confusions that you have with what you are learning. Whether that is remembering that the person’s name is Jill, not Jane, or Sally and not Sammy. With names, it might be helpful to write acrostic poems or Mnemonics. Of course, we would only really make this kind of effort if we had to study people who we cannot meet. But it might be fun to try this out with your colleagues, friends, family members and generally, people whose name you easily forget.
As a writer, I love the idea to write a silly flash fiction of a random character but using that person’s name.
Einstein was a poor boy who lived in New York. When he was walking out in the streets on the way to school, and an adult pushed him aside and said, “Get out of the way”, he thought to himself, “Right! I’m getting out of here as soon as possible!”
Of course, if you are learning about Einstein, it’s probably best to connect the silly story to something real about him. Like his hair.
I think of my blog posts that I write about what I’m learning in school, as both a rehearsal but also reflection as well. Sometimes it would be more obvious which one I am emphasising on. If I’m still in the process of learning or digesting, then that would be a reflection, which would come through quite clearly.
On the other hand, if this is a rehearsal, then probably it would feel a bit more structured, informative, and “I understand what I’m talking about, instead of spitting out words.” I hope this post conveys the latter.
Just like Rehearsal, recoding interconnects with reflection as well. Recoding is about taking the material, concept or information, and turning organising the information into a visual organiser.
A visual or graphic organiser can be:
- PMI charts (Positive, minus, interesting/implications)
- Venn diagrams
I confess that I stick with what I am familiar with and I don’t tend to try other forms of graphic organisers. However, I am slowly beginning to do this and one particular new chart that I like, has:
- Simple examples
- Interesting examples
- Non examples
In there middle is the title or topic, much like a brainstorm or mind map. The other four categories are in boxes around the main topic. Another interesting note is “non examples”. I particularly like this because it allows room to make mistakes and not feel like a failure. Because giving a wrong example or answer, is countered as a “right example” of a non-example.
I can see the implications of using this table in schools. It would allow students to gain confidence and to have a go and guessing. After all, it is pretty easy to guess the wrong thing rather than be lucky to just know the right answer.
Teacher: What is 5 plus 4?
Teacher: Thank you. You have given a good example of a non example.
*writes answer on the board in correct box*
Teacher: Does anyone else have a non example to share?
I think this also helps adults and anyone self teaching as well, but in general, humans are afraid to make mistakes. Even when we are alone making a mistake, we feel the fool. But having a “non example” category encourages us to make a mistake and be imperfect, and also helps us to see what we are learning, and what we are not. It can be good to see the opposite of what we are focused on.
This is the first part of this series, “7 steps for better memory”. I will either have one or two more posts to list the rest of the steps. Then, I will write more posts to expand on each of the steps. There is a ton of information I have not yet shared. I guess you could say I’m learning a lot. Next post will also have the reference to the book that I take all of this information from.
I will also have better examples-photos!
See you then.