building strong memory 4
5. The Principle of Meaningfu1 OrganizationWhen it comes to remembering large masses of material there is no better method than the personal organization that
you impose on the material. In other words, cluster the facts and ideas into categories that are meaningful to you. The
importance of organization is
After inspecting these lists, you were quickly able to see, no doubt, that List 1 would be most difficult to memorize because it contains groups of letters that simply don’t make sense. List 2 would not be so difficult to memorize since each word is meaningful, even though the words are unrelated. List 3, however, could be memorized easily because all the words fit into a sentence, and they make sense.
The category system. When reading or taking notes, first gather the facts and ideas. Then look them over with an eye
toward clustering them under categories. For example, if you were asked to buy the following items at the market, you
would have a difficult time remembering them.
hamburger celery butter
lettuce eggs pork chops
milk steak carrots
But if you rearranged the items under natural categories, you would find very little difficulty in remembering.
Meat Vegetables Dairy
hamburger lettuce milk
steak celery eggs
pork chops carrots butter
The category system of organization is very simple, but it has been of practical use to mankind for a long, long time. Over two thousand years ago, the Greeks depended heavily on memorized knowledge and information. A great deal of the ancient knowledge and wisdom was stored in the minds of scholars who transmitted it by word of mouth. To remember so much, the Greeks most often used the category system of general heads and sub-heads. In the following excerpt the speaker, Critias, refers to details (“particulars”) clustered under general categories (“heads”): “And now, Socrates, to make an end of my preface, I am ready to tell you the whole tale. I will give you not only the general heads, but the particulars, as they were told to me.”