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building strong memory 2


Motivated interest and studying. If you could study every one of your subjects with motivated interest, you would not have to worry about your final grades. Here’s how to get this powerful principle to work for you. If you are naturally interested in a subject, then you have no problem. If, however, you are not naturally interested, then create an artificial interest and enthusiasm. (Read again the techniques described at the end of “The Ability to Concentrate”) The trick is that when you begin to learn something about a new subject, the chances are great that you will find it genuinely interesting. The key point to remember: use the power of interest to work for you, not against you.

2. The Principle of Selectivity To pare the job of learning down to manageable size, you must decide which facts to master and which ones you can safely ignore. This is a very difficult principle to follow, because of the tiring effect of constant decision making. But the deciding and selecting must be done if real learning and remembering are to be achieved. It is impossible to learn and remember any subject with all its details; and any person who tries to do so will become bewildered and will end by remembering less than if he had tried to master less material in the first place. The overconscientious student who sets out to “learn everything in the book” exemplifies this sad situation. In trying to do so, he actually sabotages his own efforts because he runs directly into some unyielding laws: In addition to the general laws of forgetting discussed in the previous chapter, there is the law of memory-capacity for discrete items.

Hermann Ebbinghaus demonstrated this law when he recorded the number of trials that it took him to memorize six nonsense syllables. He then counted the number of trials needed to memorize twelve such syllables. He found that the number of trials required to learn the list of twelve syllables was fifteen times as great as that required to learn six syllables! One would speculate that memorizing the twelve-syllable list would take approximately twice as long as the six-syllable list; but we now see that the time and effort must be calculated not arithmetically, rather, exponentially. This is why a student should be selective: overloading the memory slows down learning to a drastic extent. Perhaps once again William James has said it best: “The essence of genius is to know what to overlook.” Selecting and rejecting. When urged to be selective, students often say, “What if I select the wrong ideas, facts, and details to memorize?” The answer to this question has six parts.

1. Have the courage to select and reject. You know that to memorize everything in a chapter will surely lead to failure.
2. As you evaluate and judge the relative importance of each item, you will be thinking actively and consciously, thus learning. This is the great bonus of this system.
3. With only a little practice you will become quite proficient in selecting the important ideas, facts,and details. Unless you begin using selectivity, you will be at the mercy of undifferentiated masses of material.
4. If, with the book open before you, you cannot select the important points, think how much more difficult it will be to formulate an answer in the classroom or on an examination, without the book in front of you. So, while you still have a chance, read thoroughly and make the best decisions that you can.
5. You have context on your side. In a new course, you have already listened to a 1ecture or two,heard general discussions, and perhaps, skimmed the first and second chapters. So the subject matter and the course are not totally new. Now, when studying the third chapter, you have a general background that will help you from going too far astray when making a choice among ideas, facts, and details.
6. Some students use this variation: They go through a chapter the first time to select only the main ideas, thus establishing a strong framework. They then go through the chapter a second time and work into the framework the necessary details; thus, ending up with the information in organized
form.
This system has an inherent strength in that general principles and main ideas are easier to remember because they involve understanding; your mind can associate them with all kinds of information already stored in your brain. The supporting details are more difficult to remember because they involve memorization through repetition. Try hard, therefore, to establish a general principle as the magnetic center around which to cluster the supporting details. A unit is easier to remember than many separate details.





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