As promised, here is the article. I may have to publish it elsewhere sometime. For now the WordPress site will do fine.Before I get to the main article, I’d like to pass some ideas to you. Take your time, see, feel, or hear where any of these statements may fit or could fit into future study and past studies. The notion that we are either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners is often way too simplified.

The truth is we can use all of these modes at any time, and we simply have a preference as to which one we are most conscious of in different situations. Sometimes we are not aware of making a picture or of having a mental voice. Or even of feeling our way through a subject. However, remember the feeling of glass, wood or fur? Remember the colour of your front door? Who’s voice can you recall the best? See if the following statements add some new choices for you to perhaps slowly or quickly become aware of, if you want to.

You may find yourself learning new ways to teach yourself…or you may not and know this easily already or about to.
Have you ever talked your way through what it is you was trying to paint a picture of in order to grasp a new idea?Or did you draw a picture of what you needed to hear about in order to grasp it?Or perhaps as you felt your way through new ideas, you were able to make sense of them as the pictures became clearer whilst hearing a voice inside making the concepts easier to understand.

Ever connected up ideas in a framework that made a pattern that you could see and feel, whilst hearing how it all fitted together in order for you to tune into it?
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What do you find easier to remember?
1) A list of words?
2) The rooms of your house?
3) Several chapters of a manual or textbook?
4) A walk through a place you enjoy visiting?If you are like me, the answers would be numbers 2 and 4. If so, then you may find this article useful. In it I describe how to turn a book, into a list of key phrases. From there, I then describe how to use our natural ability to remember places to memorise this list easily. The idea will also involve engage several of your senses at once, making it easier to create a good memory.

A key phrase is simply a short sentence that calls into mind a larger idea or memory. A good key phrase or word should pull into your mind the idea, heading or concept you’ve used it for. Think of the phrase as a hook for pulling up ideas. To give you an example, if I say “Rose” or “Sea” to you, what do you remember? Or perhaps “school”? Most people will have some memories pop out complete with images, words, ideas and feelings.

First, how to create your list of key phrases?
Most books are divided into chapters, subchapters or sections and headings. This is where we start our hunt for useful key phrases.
One method will need index cards or a notebook. One page per chapter is ideal. If the book is too long, you can tackle it in smaller sections making it far easier to work with.

Divide up each section, heading or subchapter into one-sentence ideas. A clear, brief and descriptive phrase is all you will need. Something very easy to remember. For the chapter itself, on the top of the index card or page, you want a memorable title. The chapter title will usually work fine.To create easy phrases to remember, you may at times have to rewrite a section in your own words to get inspiration for a decent key phrase.

Look at any repeated themes or ideas in the section, these are often a big clue and may be the simplest phrase to use.This is the first stage of memorising the framework of a book.A *memory palace or journey is the next stage. A memory palace is simply a place you remember well, that you can then put things you wish to remember into. The term palace is what I shall refer to from here on. You will create a palace to put the key phrases into; but you will walk, fly, run and otherwise journey through it.Here, I will describe how to apply this idea to a list once you have one.It is easier to use a memory of a real place. You make it as real as you can. See it, touch it even hear it.I use the a local place that I know well.Some pointers:

      1)A well known place is easier than an imaginary one, simply because you are halving the amount of work you have to do. You can add imaginary spaces to a real place if you wish.

     2) Any real place you use needs to feel good to you, or at least fairly neutral. You want to enjoy being there. Avoid places that have bad memories for you.

     3) Clear features and landmarks are important. Whether real or imaginary, each one used must be distinct and separate from other features.

    4) Use simple visual puns, wordplay and engage your senses. Make it a treat if you can, you will like using it more.

    5) Exaggeration and very silly images are not any more useful than vivid, more ordinary ones. They may not be quite so easy to remember if they don’t fit in well with your memory either. Play with this one, as success can vary.I create my palace by writing it out in Word, highlighting my key phrases. Two columns are used, one for the list of key phrases and a larger column for the description of the palace and where I have put things.

Writing it out this way does two things. First, you are able to work out the logic of the palace. Second, it is also a repetition of the material itself.Having written the description of the palace, I will then walk through it in my mind. At each key phrase location, I will deliberately draw, write, paint or otherwise construct a solid link between the feature I am using, and the item I am putting there.Walk around your palace, choosing distinct places to save your key phrases. Examples I’ve used myself are phrases:

  • painted across doors.
  • on big labels dangling off string.
  • graffitied on buildings/bridges/cars.
  • used on titles on books/envelopes.
  • on pub signs and adverts.
  • on billboards held by characters who also speak or perform actions.

I also use trails of objects leading from one place to another.You then travel through the palace in your mind, making it more real and taking the time to build solid reminders that you can touch and see clearly.Once you have completed this work, you can go through the palace a few times to get it clear and to reinforce the memory. Over the next few days, go through it again a few times.

Test yourself against a written copy of your key phrase list. As you do so, begin working on recalling the sections each key phrase is used for.What I have found is that I have my complete list and also know where my knowledge is weak. If I recall a particular phrase, I can get a grasp of how well I remember the section it comes from. This makes revision a lot easier as I only have to reread selected weak areas.

*The concept of a memory palace goes back to ancient Greece. Otherwise known by the fancy title, the Method of Loci, it simply means remembering things by placing them in specific locations in a building or other place.To test the idea, simply remember a room in your house. Try putting three items in there for me. An apple, a key and a bicycle for example. Make these items quite real, and deliberately put them in a place in the room. You will find that if you look back in your memory of the room later, you will remember the objects and their location easily.

The technique is mentioned in the latest two books by Thomas Harris, “Hannibal” and “The Rise of Hannibal”. There are further articles on the memory palace concept to be found online. A later version of this document will include links.**I’ve realised there is an argument over memorisation versus understanding. In this scenario, you have to understand the material in order to perform this task well. The constant work you put your mind under to make this function, will in itself boost understanding. The material itself still needs deliberate working with, analysis and use before it is truly understood.
 
 

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