Method of Loci: Memory Palace

This was an interesting method for trying to memorize something, but I don’t think it’s going to be one I use regularly. Although I can see the value of it for a visual person, I’m a verbal person. I literally see words. My memory for conversations and often for things I’ve read is closed to verbatim (although the older I get the more I find I can remember reading or hearing it but not where I read it or who said it). I am NOT, however, a visual person, and the process of trying to tie visual pictures to words for the purpose of memorizing them actually hindered my ability to memorize them rather than assisted me, no matter how relaxed I tried to get. Let me step you through the way the process ran in my head so you can see the difficulty.

First, I had to paint the picture in my mind. Even standing there looking at the scene, I was not concentrating on the overall scene, I was seeing details such as the dinner dishes that hadn’t been carried away to the kitchen yet and the laundry piled on the kitchen table. I found it was better to go into the bedroom and close my eyes and envision the house all cleaned the way it will be some time later this weekend maybe. That helped with the picture painting and with the relaxation exercise.

Next, I had to come up with my own word associations. Doc Warren’s ideas of a harmonica for practice didn’t mesh with me; I don’t play music. I do write, however, and what ended up meshing with me was the idea of a completed novel as a goal or outcome and crumpled pieces of paper as practice and spelling, capitalization, and punctuation as conventions. That mental image made it easier for me to guide my mind through the house, and since I’m quite used to “communities” of people in my home (I have 6 kids and 2 grandkids and both I and my husband come from large families), seeing them in my doorway or on my couch with picture frames above their heads was not hard to picture either.

The problem was, I got tangled up with the process of making the associations, but putting those associations back into a sentence that meant anything was another story. Seeing a bunch of people staring at the mirrors for the display cabinet on my wall and rearranging the figurines on the shelf so the shelf doesn’t fall might help me remember the concepts of observing, monitoring, adjusting, and supporting, but to try and make sense of that in any context was impossible.

So for me, it would have been easier to just take a sentence at a time and actually memorize the words. I would have learned it faster and I think I’d have gotten more out of it; personally I’m thinking more about picture frames and mice figurines on a shelf in my dining room than I am about the concepts associated with situated instructional design.

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2 responses to “Method of Loci: Memory Palace

  1. Julia, I am a visual person and it was even difficult for me. Mentally I was thinking about already knowing my room properties, while trying to complete the task of remembering the items when associating it with a memory scheme. Well I don’t think I did too well, but I did realize that it might be more lively in my room if I would brighten it up with a little sunshine by opening the windows from time to time. I linked this to the idea that students need a change in scenery sometimes to stimulate their learning and motivation.

  2. I’m also a verbal person. I also notice the details. They’re what I describe in a novel and I leave the big picture to the reader’s imagination.

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