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I remember that…. or do I?

How do you make a memory stick?

We have all heard the preface, “ I remember when….”  and then a story follows that is important to the teller.  Sometimes it is not so engaging to the listener!

If you analysed this situation, you would see that what the person is relating is an event that carried an emotion that lead to a memory.  The range if emotions is infinite, so the memories are also as varied as the people telling the story.  The depth of the emotion will determine the power of the memory.

Traditional learning, showing and connecting over activity

What did you learn today at school? Nothing, What happened today?  James missed the chalk!

I can remember an event when I was 6, when Mrs Raffle literally rapped me over the knuckles with a ruler, because I was daydreaming during arithmetic.  There wasn’t much on the paper, and I didn’t have a clue what I should have been doing.  In retrospect I am not sure what the emotion was, but I think that the pain created a direct body brain connection.  Sadly it didn’t stop me drifting out the window on some flight of fantasy.  I think that I spent a good part of my school life inside my head.

In secondary school I do remember the chalk and duster throwing when boys were falling asleep or clearly not paying attention.  That was the engagement and drama of seeing if they would “come to” in time to execute a great cricket fielding catch!  If they did then they were let off the hook. That created a visual memory, where I can see the event on “replay”.

Each of you reading can immediately recall your own events that created a lasting memory.  It’s interesting, because mostly we have no idea what the class or content was, just the side show is the memory.

Fun activities create memories via emotion and movement

Research points us backward, learning is an experience

So what is this telling us about memories and how we can create them.  The work of JW Wilson is showing us that the brain comes primed for learning. Our genes carry information gained over thousands of generations that gives us a head start in learning life’s survival skills and knowledge. This genetic framework dictates not only how we learn but also what we learn and remember.

Your genes are the stored and accumulated learning that is passed from one generation to another.  Information that has helped us survive and thrive is encoded into the genes and then passed forward to ensure that we do survive.

There are built in programs that we recognise in infants and toddlers that are survival reflexes.  We call the birth set of reflexes, “ primitive reflexes” and the second set “postural reflexes”.  These should be “overwritten” by smooth co-ordinated movement as we grow, so that by 5 at the latest they are no longer found when the body is put through certain movements.

Remember the order of a deck of shuffled cards for 30 minutes after looking at them for 5 minutes!  The Memory Olympics.

The Plastic Brain – Always changing – A key to survival

As we touched on in the above paragraph, Humans have a special ability to very quickly adapt to their environment with new learning. This is the learning that we associate with “learning” new information.   Researchers call this “Brain Plasticity“. A total necessity in the 21st century.  Information is doubling every 18 months, and we can find it all through “Dr Google”, so our brains must be able to take in new information and change to survive in todays world.

The brain has an information acquisition code built into the tissue.  The work of Noam Chomsky in the 1950s highlighted the amazing ability of children to learn language by the time they are 6 without any formal education.  They just pick it up as they go along.  The instruction is both explicit and implicit.  This observation lead to further observation and research into how the brain stores information.

Learning on the move in context Input via all the senses

The Learning Code defines how the brain is selective in what information we take in.  We do filter for information that is relevant to us right now.  We only see the sign for the Chiropractor when we have a painful back, or some personal reason.   The city practice in Young Street had been established on the ground floor for 10 years and new patients from the building across the road would ask how long we had been open because they thought that we were not there a few weeks ago. When they didn’t need us the brain filtered us out, because there was other more important information going in.

Note that in last week’s blog focused on the role of visual input to the learning process. 90% of the information that goes into our brain is visual. Check out that blog here…

Remembering the stuff that matters

How do we create memory?  The physiology of learning is build in, we don’t need a university degree to activate it.  The experience of most of us is that batch learning doesn’t create lasting memories.   However, we can activate our brains to suck in information at a breathing taking rate if we use the Learning Code.

The experience and observation of thousands of us realise that we each have special abilities, currently called your 10x skill.  That thing that you effortlessly and repeatedly and don’t even think that it is special or amazing.  Others get a headache trying to copy you, but for you it’s no big deal.

This skill may never be fully developed or revealed if you don’t get an opportunity to find it and then grow it. When we do happen onto this ability and the right environment is present, we activate our Learning Code and then we grow and activate neural tissue with little or no effort.  If we don’t activate our Learning Code, then little happens, despite our efforts.  Think a night of cramming for an exam, and in 2 days your are hard pressed to remember what you looked at.  Worst case your brain is empty during the exam!

Studying, know your learning style

In contrast I can relate that I can remember articles that I read in my early teens with near photographic recall.  I was infected by a serious love of cars by my Mother, likely in utero!  So road tests of cars that I liked and read about, I can remember in detail nearly 50 years later. There are also books that I read as a child that engaged me, and as a family we all read so they were discussed and often read again, and they form a significant part of memory.

Observe your own memories – that holds a clue as to how we each create lasting memories.

Each of you will have your own memories that you can pull up at will. We can find a common theme that the subject matter was interesting to us at the time.  The activities or items often had repetition and fun and enjoyment in social context to make it more emotional and therefore more memorable.  

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