Now I know my memory~

Posted by Sergio on Feb 21, 2016

This week I’ll be looking at two pieces. One by Matthew Syad and the other by Daniel Willingham.

Willingham discusses ideas about how students can remember and what is needed in order to remember something. He suggests that students should always ask why after everything they read to remember it because we need meaningful cues in order to remember anything. Indeed I think he is probably right. I’ve always believed that the more engaged you are in something the more you learn from it. Relating this to what Willingham has said it’s certainly possible that the more focused you are on learning something the more cues you will create and thus you have more ways in which to recall an idea.

Furthermore I really liked that he added his point about ‘Why’. Indeed since Willingham says that shallow repetition is not a good way for students to remember what they’ve read it makes sense to make them think about it and understand it instead.  When I was younger I read about the Socratic Method, an exercise to provoke critical thinking and how asking questions of everything would bring you to the next truth and idea. “Why” seems to be the most basic and fundamental question we can ask and should always help us learn and expand our understanding.

I also agree with his avocation of mnemonics as a powerful tool to aid in learning. When I was in my A levels we learnt the sign values for Sin, Cos and Tan using  “All Silver Tea Cups” relating to the 4 quadrants on a unit circle. This allowed us to always remember if something was positive or negative in our exams. However I would argue it didn’t bring us any closer to understanding the mathematics and it became a cloak to disguise our misunderstandings.

Matthew Syad argues that people are not naturally talented and that hard work will always produce the best results. He uses the example of tennis players from his street and points out the absurdity that people from this street are genetically predisposed to be better at Tennis. A game that I watch competitively exemplifies his point even better. The game is called League of Legends and it places a huge emphasis on learning, practice and strategy with the game changing every 2-3 weeks so that players must relearn and test new aspects of the game. This year the company released a list of the 20 best players in the world of which only 7 came from outside South Korea despite South Korea being less than 7% of the Global Player base of the game (5 million players in South Korea).

The reason that so many South Koreans become the best is because their culture is more encouraging of video gaming as a career and so more Koreans are able to practice enough to be the best. Indeed across all Esports Korea dominates the scene and couches regularly attribute it to the cultural work ethic. I regularly think about the learning involved in games compared to that of school as I don’t think there is a huge discrepancy between the two forms. Indeed the only difference is that in games we are self-motivated and want to learn and become better.

1 Comment

  1. Emma
    22 February 2016

    I agree with much you have described in your think-piece Sergio. The concept of remembering things for the sake of regurgitating the information for an exam resonates with me in particular and mirrors my personal experience. For example, SOH CAH TOA I learnt for my GCSEs and used it in my exams well enough to get a good mark, but I had literally no understanding of the meaning behind the ratios!

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