About Your Memory: “THE FORGOTTEN INGREDIENT”
by Hermine Hilton – ‘America’s Memory Motivator’
As many Malibuites know, I do my best to keep in shape, physically and mentally, by walking up a mountain canyon most days. In order to make that arduous uphill trek easier, I listen (through my humongous headphones) to talk radio. And for too long a time I’ve been hearing about something that really bothers me. I keep hearing, repeatedly, about the sad fact that our U.S. student test scores rank so very low on the universal totem pole. This is so annoying to hear because it doesn’t have to be that way.
However, I do realize that there is a very definite reason for the lack. And that is – whether starting 1st grade or going for your Masters, it is rare that any teacher or professor along the way ever teaches us how to work our memories. How ridiculous is this, when from kindergarten on up, (starting with The Pledge Of Allegiance), we’re expected to remember everything and then be tested on it. And although the best computer in the world should be the one attached to our necks, there is no course on how to operate it.
No-one teaches us how to hit our mental ‘save key’. Memory is simply not a subject taught in our schools. B.B.C. Radio did an incisive series on memory and brought out this very point, that the function of working memory is crucial to learning and yet is relatively unknown in current pedagogy.
It is the forgotten ingredient.
As ‘America’s Memory Motivator’, I speak to audiences around the globe. Wherever I speak, whether nationally or internationally, to audiences on college campuses or behind prison walls, I always introduce the basic elements of working your memory, because the mechanics of memory are the same for every one of us:
#1…Collect– Focus consciously on that which you want to remember…
#2…Connect– Link the new info you wish to save to your known info…
#3…Recollect– Review your mental connection and you’ll be able to get the info off the tip of your tongue, and spit it out.
The memory, after all, is a connecting machine in which one thing triggers off another…’and that reminds me’.
Rote is Rot
But, instead of training our memories to make connections, right from the kickoff we are invited to try to learn by ROTE, which is merely mechanical repetition with no thinking (intelligence) involved. All the government’s funds for education will be wasted if teachers continue to ignore thinking in favor of mindless repeating. The consistent and embarrassingly low U.S. test scores are proof that ‘roting is rotten’.
If there is no thinking involved, there is no real learning.
It is very important for each of us to learn how to collect information so that we can eventually learn how to set up a mental file.
Yes, that’s what I said, a mental file.
Did you know that was even possible?
That you could collect and file information in your mind for later recall. Well it is.
The only difference between the alphabetical file in your file drawer and the memory file you can instill in your mind, is rather than an ABC file, a mental file is set up numerically.
If you were a medical student studying the cranial nerves, (there are 12), you could file them away, and be able to answer, when tested, that ‘glossopharyngeal’ is the 9th one.
If you were studying the U.S. Presidents, (44 to date), and put them all in your mind’s file, you could answer, ‘Chester A. Arthur’, if someone asked who was the 21st. (Many books cover the subject including my own.)
What a difference it would make
Imagine how handy it would be if you could just go to your mental file to retrieve the answers to the questions on a test. Well, you can.
(And it’s a whole lot safer than writing them on your hand…sorry, just messin’ with ya)
But someone has to teach you how to put the info in and how to get it out.
And it’s a shame mental filing isn’t taught in our schools.
Don’t blame your teachers though. They can’t teach you something they never learned themselves, and probably didn’t even know existed.
Even in my Psyc. Class in college, memory training wasn’t a priority. I guess that’s the reason all I remember from that class is that the professor was a sloppy dresser and Pavlov had a dog.
I learned about mental filing from an Austrian professor my mother read an article about, in a California newspaper, and encouraged me to contact. My introduction to the theory left me speechless. Besides the fact it knocked my socks off, it enabled me, thereafter, to ace every test I took and thereby kill the curve in every class I enrolled in.
So much is written about the mystery of memory.
Memory shouldn’t be a mystery.
It should be as natural as breathing.
It should be the very first step in learning how to learn.
And it should definitely be taught in our schools.
The Lady On The Mountain
[Hermine Hilton, one of America’s most popular speakers, is the author of several books on memory including “The Executive Memory Guide” (Simon&Schuster) and her latest book titled “Fuhhgeddaboutit!” (How To Stop Worrying About Your Memory”). You may have heard her on Radio or seen her on Television with David Letterman; Charlie Rose; Matt Lauer; Bryant Gumbel or a host of others. She is the creator of Sonik Memory and the memory motivator for the Fortune Five Hundred companies from Nordstrom to NASA, and is known internationally from the Netherlands to Nigeria, Turkey to Thailand, Italy to Israel, and almost all other points on the planet.
(She is also known as ‘The Lady On The Mountain’ to those of you in Malibu who drive Corral Canyon.)]