A question on TWTM boards was directed at those who have classically trained their kids for a long time. I've certainly homeschooled for a long time, and I've been able to wrap my brain around classical ed for a while, though the classical-ness of our own homeschool varies by season. I do know enough about it to make an intelligent comment or 2. On the boards I gave a short answer to the question but Kathy (Hi, Kathy!) said she'd like to see it fleshed out a bit.So, I started writing, and this blog post turned into an article. I'm breaking it down into 3 parts, which I'll post on 3 separate days:
1) Teach Memorization: How to memorize and what to memorize
2) Develop Your Kids auditory skills
3) Image vs. Word- what does it matter what we focus on?
There is a huge qualitative difference between short term memory based on performance and long term memory based on learning. In fact, without memory, it's hard to know if learning has really taken place. I've discussed the difference before between overview and memory and the "memory" that these articles refers to is more clearly defined as simply "overview." At the end of the day, when the test is over, the kids don't remember what they "know." The reason? They didn't know it in the first place because it wasn't stored in their long-term memory. Knowing involves ownership. If I know how to read- really read with fluency and comprehension, I have to KNOW the letter sounds. I have to know them so well that that knowledge comes to me without even think about them, in a blink of the eye, (for a really great discussion of this, check out Gladwell's "Blink"). I have to know how to manipulate them (for instance, "g" followed by "i" or "e" makes a soft "g" sound and when followed by the other consonants makes a hard "g" sound.) If I don't KNOW the letter sounds, and how to manipulate them, then I am fumbling, bumbling around trying to figure and getting frustrated because the word "gem" only makes sense in my sentence about precious jewels if I pronounce it correctly as "jem" not "ghem".
In other words, real learning is taking place when the information stored in the long term memory of the person owning it. Otherwise it's just overview and something the person has to look around for to find again.
The Memory Work that I am talking about is knowledge stored in the child's brain. The kid knows that they know it. "Teaching" how to memorize, like teaching reading, is teaching how to learn and requires commitment and hard work. Time line cards, facts, people, places, are not stored overnight and require repetition and mnemonic devices, (a mnemonic device is a way to create "hooks" in the brain to store and retrieve information; for instance, Taxonomy is often memorized by learning the sentence, "King (Kingdom),Philip (Phylum), Cried (Class), Out (Order), For (Family), Goodness (Genus), Sake (Species)!" There are many mnemonic devices to use, flash cards, disappearing sentences, set the information to song, and they are worth teaching your students about. Fill their learning toolbox with quality tools!
Whenever I can find resources accompanied to music, I grab it. Music is a wonderful mnemonic and I try to make use of it whenever I can.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the importance of memory work, what mnemonics you use and what you memorize.