Why They Don’t Teach Learning And Memory Techniques In Schools

| Podcast

No question about learning and memory enters my inbox more often than than “why aren’t these memory techniques taught in schools?”

The question reeks of conspiracy.

It creates pictures of entire nations hoping to keep their children in ignorance so they will become mindless slaves working for the state.

But worse than all of that paranoia …

The question is …

 

Completely Irrelevant!

First off, memory techniques are taught in schools.

I recognize this simple fact even if once upon a time I dropped out without a high school degree (part one of this three-part series) and mercifully figured out what to go back to school for (part two).

How are memory techniques already used in schools?

How about the song we teach children to help them remember the alphabet? Its melody is a memory technique, loud and clear.

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge for music is a memory technique.

We have simple mnemonics for astronomy, art, math, biology, geography and chemistry.

Heck, just search Wikipedia for “list of mnemonics” and you’ll find more than you can shake a stick at.

But Are Simple Mnemonics Enough?

That’s the real question at hand.

Because the problem is that a lot of the images and word play you’ll find on that Wikipedia page are useless.

Worse than useless, they create a ton of overwhelm.

Why?

Because they don’t come with any understanding. They’re not loaded with strategy …

They Have No Method …

And that’s why the Magnetic Memory Method is such a roaring success.

No, not for everyone. Not everyone wants to learn how to think about memory. Many people want formulas, gimmicks and “systems.”

I’m sorry, but that’s not reality.

And it’s not what we do in the Magnetic Memory Method Family.

Far from it. Instead of pretending that there’s some kind of fix all system that will magically improve your memory for all things forever and ever amen …

We Break Memory Techniques Down To The Basics

 

And once that’s done, we understand the how, the why and the what.

So that it doesn’t hurt so much to learn. Here’s why you feel pain with learning, by the way (thanks to Miklós in the SuperLearner community for bringing it to our attention):

It’s even easier to stop the pain than the video suggests.

How so?

By making sure that you understand how to really get results from the techniques by aligning them with your real reasons for learning, remembering and recalling information.

It’s often not what it seems.

Because here’s the deal …

At the Magnetic Memory Method Headquarters, I strive to achieve just one thing:

Mastery.

Mastery over your memory.

Mastery over your concentration.

Mastery over the rate at which you learn.

Mastery over the pain of forgetfulness.

So That You Never Have To Feel That Pain Again!

But it’s not going to happen without study.

It’s not going to happen without effort.

It’s not going to happen without creating and using Memory Palaces.

Above all, it’s not going to happen without consistency of effort.

And that’s what’s so cool about the Magnetic Memory Method.

If you’ve been following the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, you’ve heard the stories of success. Just one for today:

These success stories with learning and memory techniques all boil down to one thing:

Learning the techniques.

Using the techniques.

Analyzing your results and then improving your abilities using them.

The best part?

I’ve had the chance to teach the Magnetic Memory Method to some of the finest students on the planet.

And guess what?

Success Leaves Clues

All of the most successful students share one thing in common.

They don’t wait around waiting for success to happen!

They invest in themselves.

They study the material they’ve invested in.

They take action.

They experiment, explore and when they’re done, they experiment and explore some more!

Having The Humility To Learn Is A Skill

What I’ve learned from all of the Magnetic Memory Method success stories is that everything begins with a decision.

It’s a decision to set aside time to learn.

To really learn.

I’ve done it myself. After years of success with my own memory and as a memory trainer, I went to learn from one of the best on the planet.

Not just to collect data and “spy” on the competition.

To Truly Learn

As a result, I’m better for it. In fact, I still buy books and courses from people. Some are from authors who help only a fraction of the audience the Magnetic Memory Method has gathered. Some are from towering figures who practically rule the memory world.

I’m talking about taking some courses that cost 4x the amount of the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass and Mastermind combined.

Yes! Memory improvement courses that expensive really do exist!

The Best Always Invest In Themselves

Here’s the thing:

Even when you get to the top – which is incredibly rare – you still have to keep learning. And let’s not beat around the bush:

The ones who sail past the obstacles in life are the ones who are in motion to begin with.

Wouldn’t you like to be in motion?

Of course you would. You just need to get started with learning and memory techniques.

And the best part about them is that learning can be fun.

Seriously.

Learning how to learn doesn’t have to be the horrid and depressing playground of the school system where everyone winds up asking, “Why don’t they teach the most important skills in the world in school?”

Again, that isn’t the real question.

Let’s Ask The Really Important Questions
About Learning And Memory

The really important questions have to do with the quality of the memory techniques you study and the quality of the action YOU take.

And let’s face it:

The quality of your action comes down to the quality of the philosophy behind the education.

And my philosophy of learning and memory is that you need someone to teach you how to fish, not someone to do the fishing for you.

Are you in?

16 Responses to " Why They Don’t Teach Learning And Memory Techniques In Schools "

  1. Bjoern says:

    Hey Anthony,

    It’s also very important to learn how to read effectively. I struggled with reading my mother tongue for years. My teacher always told me to read slowly and carefully and my brain got crazy. Thanks to the books from Tony Buzan ( also part of the Superlearner program) I can now read my mother tongue. I don’t judge anyone. I think it’s important to look forward. Thanks again for your podcast. It helps me a lot.

    A class in school dealing with reading and memory would be huge benefit for our society. I am an IT guy and love technology, but we are humans and have a supercomputer called brain and should use it.

    hasta pronto,
    Björn

    • Thanks for these powerful thoughts, Björn.

      One tiny thought I have is to develop the Department of Memory Studies at a university. I’m not sure that is a mountain I want to climb, but it’s as obvious as daylight to me that the subject at least belongs to the Humanities.

      I added a video to this page by someone talking about why learning is hard. I don’t disagree with the video as such, but find it saddening that all human brains are painted with the same brush.

      In reality, some people are really turned on by the energy costs of learning new things. And the idea that “you have to be willing to be uncomfortable” talked about at the end of the video might not be true. Perhaps I am allowing myself to get into semantics, so will digress. But I cannot help but think that we still have more work to do and that whatever “human” is, we still have the potential to stand higher than dopamine. 🙂

      • Bjoern says:

        I would translate “you have to be willing to be uncomfortable” to “you must take action”. And that can be challenging sometimes.

        Someone with English as a mother tongue not necessarily have to learn another language. Same with German / French / Spanish, but you can do it and will benefit from it. It’s a motivational thing and about showing respect to other people speaking their mother tongue while visiting their country.

        • Good point about being able to speak at least a little of the language when visiting a country is a sign of respect. It’s totally true and it winds up earning you more respect in many contexts.

          It’s also a great icebreaker that leads to interesting relationships. I’ve made fast friends with many hotel staff simply by using their language and asking questions about it. For example, “I learned this from a phrasebook. But how would people in this neighborhood really say it?”

          And when you remember that and start using it … magical experiences unfold.

          I think learning a new language is good for so many other reasons too, such as brain health. In fact, there are 15 reasons why language learning is good for your brain on the podcast and blog.

          If all of those don’t convince people, I don’t know what will.

          Thanks as ever for your comments – look forward to the next one! 🙂

  2. Bill says:

    Hi Anthony,
    I just wanted to drop you a line to say “hi”. As for stuff to remember, I know the Treble Cleve but always had a problem with the Bass Cleve, when I remembered this saying: Great Big Dogs Fight Animals. I also took your drawing of the Man slipping on a banana peal and used him for my own image and I want to thank you for that. I needed to remember for no reason a license plate # 60358. So the Image for 603 is a Chess Man and 58 is leaf. Therefore I see the Chess Man slipping on a leaf. Maybe he has a chess board and when he slips all the chess pieces fly up then fall to the ground!! But there is no cop in the scene!
    Keep up the good work Mr. Anthony all my respect to you! You are a Memory Guru as far as I am concerned.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Bill. I appreciate them.

      More importantly, I’m so glad to learn that you’ve been able to modify one of my images and make it your own. “Chess” is a nice image for 60 – do you have a particular chess piece in mind? For me, I instantly think of the 2nd X-Men film where Magneto plays chess with the glass pieces. It’s a very vibrant image for me, so thanks for sharing yours and bringing it to mind!

      Great solution for bass as well. I used Good Birds Don’t Fly Alone and AceG to learn that, but for teaching, have always wanted to find something more concrete. “Don’t” and “Alone” aren’t particularly concrete, after all. But each word in your G-B-D-F-A is something based either in an object or action, so it’s much better.

      Any ideas for A-C-E-G?

      Thanks for your contribution and look forward to your next post here on the site! 🙂

      • Bill says:

        A C E G —-All Cows Eat Grass

        • Bill says:

          Okay Last one: A E G C = Anthony Exits Germany Calm

          • It looks like the Magnetic Memory Method blog has just got its first “LOL.”

            I don’t think I’d be calm if I found sheet music written with the notes that way, though … 😉 But it’s a great mental exercise now that you mention it to reorder the notes and imagine what the staff would look like if things were placed differently.

            And many guitarists do this all the time by changing the tuning of the different strings.

            Hmmm … so many fun games to play with the mind – thanks for triggering a new one! 🙂

      • Greg says:

        Ideas for ACEG, one bland and the other magnetic:
        All Children Eat Grapes
        Albino Cats Exploding Goats

        • I think ‘Albino Cats Exploding Goats’ takes the prize so far, Greg. Each word is specific and ‘explosion’ is an impactful verb that we can imagine the cats reacting to, giving the image 2-way force.

          Thanks for this amazing contribution to the discussion! 🙂

  3. Alex says:

    Hi Anthony,

    Another brilliant idea.

    Memory studies could fit nicely into Philosophy of Mind, Psychology, Rhetoric, Philology – heck Business, Law, Medicine, History, Sociology, Linguistics. It is a crucial life skill, like numeracy and literacy. Forget computers, they don’t help our thinking; instead, teach mind mapping, effective reading, story telling, negotiation, mental calculation and the fine arts of recollection and recall. Teach how to think, not what to think.

    These skills are not taught in schools because schools (alas even so-called post-secondary schools and colleges) have an interest in turning out widgets for a 20th century manufacturing sector that doesn’t exist today.

    Maybe in the next few years the Arts and Sciences of Mnemotechniques will get the respect they deserve.

    Until that time, however, we will be sharpening our own memory saws and gradually improving, enjoying the luscious fruits of our labours and struggles.

    When I do something as fascinating and useful as mnemonics I think of the Romans and some of their sayings – Per ardua ad astra (which I think is the RCAF slogan) – and – Per angusta ad augusta.

    Beautiful sayings by people who adopted memory arts and crafts in their day-to-day lives.

    • Great ideas, Alex. Maybe there’s a chance to pitch a university on a Department of Memory Studies after all.

      Those are indeed great sayings, and ones worth remembering. I’ve always liked the Howard Barker line as well:

      This is art, it is hard work
      And one friend said, too hard for me
      And the other said, if you will
      I will come again
      Because I found it hard I felt honoured

      But as warm and gushy as it can make us feel to be soldiers of memory and whatnot …

      … this stuff really isn’t that hard. I haven’t figured out what exactly makes some people seize upon it more than others, but if it comes down to some kind of masochistic lust for the (tiny) adversities of training …

      … well, I just don’t know. Time to go re-read The Republic (again), I guess. 😉

      Thanks as ever for your contributions to our discussion about memory and its power. How to think rather than what to think remains the cause, to be sure, and memory will always be the first and last gate along the way.

  4. Alex says:

    I am reminded of the lines by TS Eliot: “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire / Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.” However, we don’t seem to get that message from the teacher’s chair.

    That’s why memory practice is wonderful to help us acquire wisdom. It keeps us humble, yet it rewards us constantly, insofar as we put effort into it.

    Thanks for the podcast Anthony.

    • Thanks as ever for this, Alex.

      If only humility were as endless as Eliot intones, though I feel he’s being ironic in this passage. There’s a slight reference to Oedipus here in the metaphors of light, unhiding and not finding enough about the folly of old men.

      I think the case can be made the Oedipus starts, ends and does practice a kind of humility even in his undoing. What is lacking in him is lacking in all of us, found in another line from this poem: “We must be still and still moving.”

      That, I would propose, cast as a metaphor for memory techniques, ensures humility, without the darkness.

      Thanks as ever for stimulating new regions of thought! 🙂

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