Until my sophomore year in high school when I wanted to remember a Latin vocabulary list or any other list, I would overlearn, meaning I would have to continue to memorize the list long after I thought I knew it.
Recitation during the original learning process also helped me remember by repeating the items over and over to myself. I learned to remember the entire list as a single unit rather than learning the first half one day and the second half another day. This was discouraging at first when memorizing a long list, but I realized that I learned faster and remembered the items longer by memorizing items as a single unit.
I wanted more though.
Reliable memory is so important to success in life, and I knew many fellow students who spent a great deal of time inventing ways to strengthen their respective memories. Some guys I knew used mnemonics, i.e. trying to make remembering easier by using various kinds of rhymes or associations.
But in order to remember a great many facts by using such devices, a person has to remember the many devices, so it may become harder to remember the device than the information the person wants to remember.
I worked with my friend Bob in order to develop a terrific memory.
We had heard of people who had fantastic memories. They never forgot a face or a name. Secondly, they could repeat whole pages word for word, or they could play a difficult music piece after having heard the piece played once. In fact, some people could actually see the material in their mind after they had learned it and with a brief glance at the material, if needed, they could give a complete description.
This is what Bob and I wanted, but how could we develop our own memories to even be close to this?
We did a lot of thinking and often felt discouraged as we tried different methods, but one day in the early spring of our sophomore year in world history class, the plan became apparent to Bob.
At that time, our class was studying various types of world maps, and one of the assignments was to draw a map of a European country of our choice. The map had to be both political and physical, drawn to scale with symbols, proper coloring, and geographic grids.
Bob thought that if he studied the map of a country or a state, covered the map and reproduced it from memory until he reproduced it perfectly, his memory would sharpen. He was right.
I did this with both states and countries for 15-20 minutes per day from the spring of my sophomore year in high school through my many college years so as not to lose the skill.
The results were amazing, and I also learned a great deal of geography.
Bob and I told other students about Bob’s discovery, and if they used it, they told us of the memory miracle that happened to them. A person has to persevere, though, in doing the mental reproductions, but once a person has mastered the method, he or she will become a memory machine.