The Art of Memory

 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 I am memorizing the Sermon on the Mount.  All 111 verses by Christmas. A declining memory  is excusable at my age.  Expected. And I am no genius. In fact I have a very average memory at best. So why am I doing this? First, I am discovering the “art and science of remembering everything” as I read a book my son recommended to me called Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer. According to the author, “the average person squanders about 4 weeks a year compensating for things he or she has forgotten.”   I want to capture more – and forget less. So much of what I read or hear forms a brief impression but then is soon forgotten.  What would it mean to have all this lost knowledge accessible within me?   How many connections have failed to develop in my mind because of untrained memory?  Practically speaking, I want to remember people’s names and what they tell me.  This art of memory applies to remembering everything! Joshua Foer compels the reader to learn to think in more memorable ways.  He utilizes techniques known as the “art of memory” which were refined and taught by Romans like Cicero and Quintilian as a way to memorize sermons, prayers, speeches, and even entire books.  In their day, memory was everything.  A trained memory was considered fundamental to an educated mind as well as a chief form of character building.  “Only through memorizing, the thinking went, could ideas truly be incorporated into one’s psyche and their...

Improving Memory

I recently wrote about a new cognitive condition being reported on called digital dementia that is affecting some even in their early teens and twenties.  This condition – a result of the overuse of digital technology –  leads to unbalanced brain development, impacting many functions including memory. The virtual world offers an easy alternative making it tempting to resist the work of memory. Perceiving little need, are we forgetting how to remember? But what happens when our memory processes weaken?  Memory fuels creativity and allows us to make learning connections. In addition long-term memory forms the foundation of our personal  identity as a key player in linking the past to the future; looking back, our lives become a sum total of what we remember. Memorizing is hard work but can become shockingly fun and worthwhile. Memory is not an innate gift but is learned. It requires a depth of processing; a full mindfulness whose enemy is distraction. Memorizing is essential for creativity to happen; it’s fertile soil for learning as well as for wise decision making. To hide God’s word in my heart requires the work of memory.  Psalm 119:11 states that a heart full of God’s word forms a hedge against wrong choices.  The choices we make in haste – in those unexpected moments when we face the challenges of life – are responses that rise up from what is stored within our hearts. I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Next week I will provide memory improvement tips for students but for now I encourage you to read a...

Digital Dementia

  Our kids are surrounded by so much technology. Media. Each day I hear of some new social media form by which they connect to others.  It’s impossible to keep up.  How then can we guide our children to use digital technology beneficially but also avoid the inherent pitfalls? We are raising kids in a culture like none before; one in which they can carry with them information about any topic, both good and bad,  and the ability to connect to anyone, anywhere at any time.  No other generation has had at their fingertips the amazing opportunities that today’s digital world grants, nor the menacing snare it easily turns into. Adults, teens and even toddlers are mesmerized by these tools which are intended to improve our lives yet can easily become their downfall. You can find any number of articles about how technology can enhance a child’s development and an equal number of articles about how it harms the process. Same with social media. Everyday I come across new articles and recommended books discussing the impact of digital technology on our children. Parents must be wise. But how do we even begin? We need to begin by keeping the end in mind.  What is it that we want for our kids? To that end, I am beginning a series of posts on this topic.  Stay with me and chime in by sending me your comments, questions, and links to articles you find interesting on this topic.  I would love to hear form you and learn together. Today I want to bring up a new cognitive condition being reported on called...