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The Art and Sciend of Remembering Everything, Joshua Foer, and Homeschool

(here is Lily holding Joshua Foer’s book… this isn’t a kid appropriate book… just saying)

I just finished reading ‘Moonwalking With Einstein-The Art and Science of Remembering Everything’ by Joshua Foer and loved it.  First off it is a geeky book and story about the Memory Championships and the history of memory.  Josh is an awsome writer and pulls in all the facts with wit and story woven through.  Probably not lifechanging or making it on my list of recommended books, but I enjoyed it and I agree that memory and the exercise of it needs to be a much bigger part of our lives and our childrens.

My favorite homeschooling book is ‘A Well-Trained Mind’ by Susan Wise Bauer and the main think I pulled from her book to influence my homeschooling methods is memorization.  Memorization, as Josh explains in detail, is a lost art.  Back in the day when there was no printing presses or even written word everything was learned and passed on through memorization.  The truth is that our brains are capable of much more than we give them. 

I have seen memorization work amazingly well with my 5-7 year old girl.  She has a memorization jar this year to draw from for reviews as we add more to the repertoire.  She knows long bible passages, all the books of the Bible, 60 countries and capitals, all the states and provinces and their capitals, a handful of poems, all 44 full names of the US Presidents, a bunch of bones, times tables… that is what I can remember without checking the jar.  I am wanting her to work on the Gettysburg Address and Martin Luther King Jr’s  ‘I Have A Dream’ speach this year.  She wasn’t taking to the Gettysburg address much this morning…. she doesn’t like all the war talk.  We tried to memorize Fladers Fields last year and she just couldn’t say it or talk about it.  I really want her to learn more speaches and passages of great writing so that she can embed that knowledge in her head for her future writing training. 

Memorization works great with kids at the beginning of elementary for several reasons:

  1. They can think and talk much faster than they can write, writting assignments and learning slow down the whole learning process.  (Writing is very important to learn, but, if it isn’t writing class, it doesn’t have to be a worksheet)
  2. Memorization can be done with games and action which are both a welcome vacation from most still school work
  3. Processing thoughts and reasoning does not come easy at a young age so it makes it a great time to store information for later retreval
  4. It helps them learn to focus on a task (this has been the hardest thing for Lily to learn)
  5. They are just brilliant at this age


But why memorize?  When my kids grow up they will have all the information possibe at their fingertips.  If we can access the internet on our phones now, what will the world be like in 20 years? 

It is up on the air how much learning to memorize actually ‘strengthen’s’ the brain, but what we do know is the more a person memorizes and learns how, the easier they can memorize in the future.  It might not make someone smarter, but practice does definatly make ‘better’.

Beyond that there is a great benefit in, what Joshua Foer compared to, a spider web.

Memory is like a spiderweb that catches new information.  The more it catches, the bigger it grows.  And the bigger it grows, the more it catches. Page 209

There is a feedback loop between the two. (memory and intelligence) The more tightly any piece of information can be embedded into the web of information we already kow, the more likely it is to be remembered.  pepole who have more associations to hang their memories on are more likely to remember new things, which in turn means they will know more, and be able to learn more.  The more we remember, the better we are at processing the world.  And teh better we are at processing the workd, the more we can remember about it.  Page 209

I have seen this over and over again with Lily, but didn’t quite know what to call it.  When we take our vacations she loves knowing what state we are in, and how close we are to the capital.  When she hears a Presidents name anywhere, she lights up and connects the name with ‘Thats a President!’  As she is watching her lecture on geology, she gets excited when she sees places we have seen before like the Grand Canyon and Arches.   New information coming at her has a bigger and bigger collection and storing ability. It is like learning more information about an old friend instead of a stranger passing by, she is interested in it. 

So much goes in one ear and out the other for everyone and the focus, methods, and energy it takes to memorize information means it will always be there to impact our thoughts and behaviors and grab more relevent information as it comes in.   I think it is important for everyone, but especially for young kids starting their learning for the exponential affect.  … it is like investments and compounding… better to start with a bigger web and grow it fast 🙂

Here is Lily with the Gettysburg Address.  She cut it out and colored around the edges to make it ‘hers’.

One Comment

  1. […] have also loved Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything and did a blog post specifically on that […]

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