Memory in Humans is Remarkable!

 

We have the capacity to store endless amounts of information:  numerical, factual, personal, and experiential.  We store information in mind and recall it when we need it.

 

 

Learning and memory go hand in hand. Remembering is an important component in early reading and success in school.

The ability to remember words affects reading competence. A good reader is just that because she can remember words drilled and learned.

A word, once sounded out, need never be sounded out again if it is stored effectively in memory. The importance of it in early reading and learning cannot be stressed enough.

Children in remedial reading classes seem to have poor recall  for words. The evidence?

They sound out words they have seen and read repeatedly. Simple words like HAD and SIT are sounded out time and time again.

Given the sentences,
- Sam sat in it.
- Mat sat on Sam.

Sam is sounded out each time! So is sat ... even though these words are repeated in the second line.

The more quickly a word is remembered and identified, the more easily it is logged and understood.

Quick recall of words affects reading fluency and fluidity in reading, whether oral or silent.

How many times have we heard, or used, the phrase I FORGOT? For a teacher in a classroom, that is a standard reply ... at times ... even when the child knows the answer!

Memory is selective in many children.

They remember that Mom said we'd be going to dinner at a favorite fast food outlet...

with only one utterance...

yet they fail to remember to pick up their toys after what seems like hundreds of requests and commands.

Memory is a skill.

Remembering is as selective as what we see and hear.

Selective remembering is not what is needed in school!

Academic memory needs to be trained...

 

A few years ago, Benny, a 6th grader, became a daily topic of conversation in the staffroom, at recess. He was in constant need of attention in the classroom. No amount of explanation or reteaching, one-to-one, had any effect. He still didn't know what to do.

Realizing the situation was worsening, I agreed to test Benny ... with his parents' consent.

The results were astounding.

Testing revealed that Benny had above-average comprehension.

His problem-solving skills were in the superior range ... one level below gifted.

With abilities of that strength, why was Benny in such difficulty?

Quite simply, the test results also showed that Benny couldn't remember anything long enough to be able to work with it.

His memory deficiency didn't allow him to apply his strong abilities.

Benny's memory was in the disabling range!

Benny needed an active training program that involved visual and auditory memory.

Within 6 weeks of one-to-one work, Benny self-reported that he could understand better.

Benny stayed in the school for 7th grade, but was never referred to the remedial program, that year. He got what he needed in a relatively short period of time.

Academic memory needs to be trained. Without practice, your child doesn't develop effective strategies for remembering.

The effect of memory has implications for thinking, understanding, and reasoning. Thnking is affected by how we store information in our brains.

If the information is stored effectively, in proper compartments, it can be accessed efficiently. The child who can't do that has isolated bits of information peppered throughout his brain. It is disorganized and leads to information overload. The child becomes exhausted by having to check each bit of information. The end result is that the child simply gives up!

Memory is rarely, if ever, taught as a specialized skill.

Students are still given many tasks where recall is important. They are expected to remember a great deal of information.

Unfortunately, they are not shown how to do it. Repetition is an obvious answer. However, there are many other strategies that are easy to demonstrate and teach.

Without direct teaching, we get the discouraging results that lead to abandoning tasks that involve direct use of memory.

There is no doubt we've gotten away from memorizing, in the same way that we have gotten away from copying from the board. Much simpler to use the photocopy machine. More's the pity. For, in doing so, we've lost essential practices that lead to success.

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