Remembering, Recalling — And Good Grades
I will describe in later posts ways to retrieve information that are natural and effective. But first here are some things to think about.
Do you believe intelligence, talent, hard work, and honesty are what get you good grades? Your experience tells you otherwise. Some schools may value thinking and learning, but
What’s tested is how good you are at remembering things.
It takes time and involvement and care to find out how well students are truly coming along, but those ways take time and involvement and care. It’s lots easier just to test for a bunch of data. (If a teacher really wanted to know how a student was doing in chemistry, he could ask her.)
Most teachers test for facts.
And of course if you want to recall raw facts, you will need some memory strategies. When was the last time anyone bothered to show you how to get good at that?
How the Game Is Rigged
What’s tested and graded is skill in dredging up information – remembering, recalling.
If schools actually did emphasize understanding, the facts would fall naturally into meaning networks and would be easy to recall. That’s how you learned all the stuff you have stored in your nervous system – no sweat. But most teachers expect you to remember facts – the vocabulary of the subject mostly – and never bother to show you how. Of course, if all students were good at the memory game, it would spoil the ranking system; everyone would get high scores.
Dutiful students spend most of their time trying to remember and usually doing a rotten job of it. That’s because, although ordinary brains are expert at learning and remembering, storing raw data is unnatural. It can be done and easily, but it requires conscious awareness of how memory works. Most students have had little or no education on memorizing – even though it’s more vital to school success than anything else. Yet,
Even a little attention to memory processes gives you a powerful advantage.
Here’s one rotten technique you can toss out right away: Passive repetition.
Saying something over and over again numbs the mind. The results are disappointing and depressing . Relaxing over late-night TV would prepare you better for a test than two hours of passive repetition.
All You Really Need to Know About Memorizing
You have an excellent memory, and you use it effectively most of the time.
If you have trouble with a school subject, you are most likely trying to master it in a way that’s unnatural to you.
Natural memory works well only in a warm and friendly environment. Fear or pride or force will shut down the process.
Remind yourself of what really works for you, use it when working on school subjects, and you will have the same success that enables you to function so well out of school. The more conscious you are of how you actually do learn and the more you trust yourself to do the right thing, the more fun you will have with school subjects and the easier it will be to master them.
Your methods are uniquely your own, but they are a variation of the Mess-Around method that I will describe in my next post.