Natural Aids to Memory

[The posts in this website are sequential, like the chapters of a book.  I put the earliest at the top.  If you want to go to the most recent, they’re listed on the left of this page.]

pick-up sticks

Get Your A Book





The Element of Love
 When you love something,  you don’t have to memorize.

For trivia storage, fake it.

In my previous post, before I fell in love, sort of,  with those peaks, what was the process I used to store all those mountain elevations in my mind where I could get at them later?

No one’s really sure how that works.  But we do know some of the things I consciously did.  You’ve probably used them and lots of others yourself from time to time.  Here, I’m just bringing them to your awareness.  Then, if you like, you can use them on purpose.

● Coincidence

● Visualization

● Comparison and Contrast

● Rhythm and Grouping

● Luck

● When I saw that Fuji’s elevation is the same as the number of months and days of the year (12 and 365), ah! the gift of coincidence!  In these realms of gold we live in, coincidence is all over the place, and the more you notice, the fewer things you’ll have to memorize.  It’s done for you.

● When I imagined myself on Adams looking north, “up”, to Rainier and south, “down” to Hood, I was visualizing.

When you’re sitting in a classroom trying to recall these elevations, picture yourself on Adams and your nonconscious will supply all sorts of data you didn’t even realize you were absorbing.  Visualizing is a powerful mnemonic (memorizing) tool.

● While I was messing around, I started associating the mountains with each other.  I even started making a meaningful sketch. Fuji and Adams are about the same. Rainier is about 2,000 feet higher.  Hood is about 1,000 feet lower.  Diablo is about a third.  Everest is two times higher than the highest of the American group

(By the way, using a pencil to trace, to draw, to copy, to connect, gets your motor neurons into the process, too.)

● Meanwhile, I was noticing similarities and differences among these mountain elevations.  That was going on all by itself.  It’s just natural, isn’t it?

Your body is a musical instrument. (You knew that, didn’t you?)

You can feel it acutely sometimes while listening to a concert or while dancing.  For the height of Diablo (3,849), I used rhythm and grouping.  Saying “three thousand eight hundred forty-nine” doesn’t have much going for it. Calling out the digits – “three, eight, four, nine”–  isn’t much better.  But put it in the poetic, musical, mode – “thirty-eight, forty-nine” – and your nonconscious sort of likes that.  Or if you say, “three-eight, four-nine” there’s an nice progression of  digits to notice, and it feels good on the tongue. Melodious.

Luck is a highly underrated participant in each moment of our lives.

It’s there all the time, and we can deliberately make it our ally.  It’s just luck – I guess – that some of the elevations make interesting patterns.  Hood: one, one, two, four, five (11, 245).  Rainier: One, four, four, four, four (14,444).  If we’re alert for such lucky accidents, they seem to pop up everywhere.

Relaxed and Comfortable

You may have noticed other natural mnemonic (memorizing) devices involved in  fooling around with the numbers.  If initial study of the material is treated as play, these natural memory aids will crop up automatically.

The hidden school subject that no one teaches is the art of memorizing, but how much you can remember for some quiz or test is what’s being graded.

In my next post, I’ll pass on some age-old mnemonic tricks.

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