01 June 2009

Learning to remember

Like many parents over half term, I have spent a lot of time nagging the kids about their revision, particularly my teenage son, who, although traditionally “clever”, seems to lack any semblance of motivation!

This weekend I read an article in the Daily Mail on how to beat forgetfulness, by eight-times world memory champion Dominic O'Brien. I decided to try a couple of his memory enhancing techniques for helping my son remember some of his science facts. O’Brian talks about the journey method, where you place things at different stages of a familiar route. He cites professional golfers who are able to recall step by step details of their games, what clubs they used, when, where and the result. If you think about it they are recalling a huge amount of complex numerical data and they do this by forming a mental route consisting of 18 stages around the course. At each stage, they have stationed specific facts about their game. When they mentally retrace their steps, the golfers recall, by association, the details stored along their journey.

My son is a good golfer and regularly plays on a local 9 hole course. The number 9 made sense to me as research shows that the human brain can only consciously process up to 9 pieces of information at one time before going into overwhelm. So we mentally walked around the course together, discussing his biology - enzymes, plant cells, photosynthesis, respiration etc on different tees, greens and parts of the course. He recalled the information so well, that when we moved on to his RS, we used the same method for the parables of the Lost Son, the Good Samaritan, The moment of enlightenment for Buddha and the Gurus within the Sikh faith to name a few.

He actually seemed to enjoy the process and wasn’t bored, but I did wake up with a start last night wondering if he would mix up the subjects as they are “lodged” in the same location on the golf course - and the same location in his brain! Only time will tell…..

1 comment:

  1. Click here to read a short article on how actors memorise their lines which demonstrates a similar point to the one Gill is making in her blog.

    It is interesting that if we have more (but different) things to remember, i.e. physical location AND biology, we actually remember better.


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