Since ancient Greece, students have relied on mnemonic strategies to boost their ability to remember.
First you should know a little about the history of mnemonics, the science behind why mnemonics work so well, the various types of mnemonic devices as well as familiar mnemonics.
A mnemonic device is a memory aid that provides a method for organizing information to make it more easily remembered.
The word mnemonic comes from the work mnema which is a Greek word meaning memory.
The ancient Greeks highly valued the use of mnemonics and considered the study of these strategies essential.
This is not surprising when you consider most writing in ancient Greece was done on clay instead of paper.
Unfortunately the study of mnemonics has all but disappeared from our curriculum remaining only as a few scattered devices considered merely as memory tricks.
The fact of the matter, however, is that much of what we learn in school is simple memorization.
Additionally there have been studies that suggest using mnemonics actually improves the ability to apply the information remembered.
(Levin & Levin, 1990) How does a simple "memory trick" become an essential element in classical education in ancient days and continue to be used in modern times centuries later? It could be due to the fact that the way mnemonic devices work is based on scientific principles of the brain.
The human brain likes patterns.
When we learn something new, our brain tries to find an association between the new information and the stuff we already know.
If no association is made there is little chance that the new data will make it to long term memory.
Mnemonics convert previously unknown information into a group that the brain can hook the new information into an old framework.
There are seven different types of mnemonics; acrostic sentences, acronyms, rhymes, phrases, keyword mnemonics, loci mnemonics, and narrative chaining.
Acrostic sentences are a very common device whereas the first letter of each word is a list of things you need to remember are used to make a sentence.
For example if you need to remember the order of the planets (back when Pluto was still a planet) you could remember the sentence "My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas.
" Acronyms are basically the same as the acrostic sentence except only one word is used to remember a concept instead of an entire sentence.
An example is the word HOMES used to remember the great lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
) There are many rhymes and phrases that serve as mnemonics such as "I before E except after C, or when rhyming with A, as in neighbor and weigh" and the phrase "The principal is your pal" to remember the difference between principle and principal.
The following three mnemonics are less frequently used but can be powerful memory devices.
Keyword mnemonics like two concepts (such as foreign word with its English counterpart) and through a visual cue are used to remember the foreign definition.
Suppose you needed to learn the Spanish word "Pato" (duck), you could imagine a duck with a pot on his head.
Loci mnemonics develop similar memory connections but use physical places rather than images.
To use this strategy you mentally take a walk through a familiar place, for example your house, and picture the things you need to remember in various areas of the house.
When you need to recall the items, take the walk again and you'll have better luck remembering.
Narrative chaining is basically remembering groups of concepts or items by creating a story involving the items to be remembered.
Narrative chaining is one of the most powerful ways to remember long lists of works.
Whether you are a parent, a student, or a teacher, there is a place for mnemonic devices in your life.