Tag Archives: memory

The Persistence of Memory

26 Sep

I’m starting to be hindered by the mnemonic devices my teachers passed on to me.

Back when I was taught them, they were fun and no-fail ways to remember pretty much anything – multiplication tables, spelling, the meaning of a word, grammar rules – the fun never ended.  I don’t know if there’s some point in your life where you’re supposed to graduate to just knowing the information instead of singing songs in your head and repeating things quietly under your breath, but I never had that moment.   I feel like other people know their ABC’s just fine without putting them to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  I, however, cannot.  Which is why if you ask me to do the alphabet backwards, I have to sing through it forward, spout out as many letters near the area I can, and then go back to the beginning again.

It’s getting rather irritating.

I’ve worked very hard to get my multiplication tables to the point where I don’t need to sing.  Oh yes, my teachers used singing for everything.  So when going through the multiples of base numbers, I have a song for carrying me through each multiple. Like:

  • 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24… = Old MacDonald Had a Farm
  • 6, 12, 18, 24, 30… = You Are My Sunshine
  • 7, 14, 21, 28, 35… = Happy Birthday 
  • 8, 16, 24, 32, 40… = She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain 

And thanks to these sparkling hits of my elementary education, I still rely on singing through multiples from time to time.  I can, of course, spout of a multiplier without the singing.  But when I need to know the breakdown of it all, I don’t even use division sometimes.  I just sing myself a lovely rendition of Camptown Races.

There are lots more that aren’t even melody-related but still annoying all the same.  Like the fact that I always struggled to spell “aggressive” and so I relied on the cheer team’s spelling cheer: “Be aggressive! B-E Aggressive! B-E  A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E! WOOOOOOOOOO!”  Or how every time I try to spell dessert I have to remind myself it’s two S’s – like two scoops of ice cream.  Or spelling Wednesday, which I always say out loud “WedNESday” to make sure I get that little strange bit in the middle correct.

The most common is the half-song half-poem, terrible excuse for a mnemonic device used for remembering how many days are in a year, which I have to go through every single time I fill out my monthly dry erase board:

Thirty days hath September

April June and November

All the rest have 31

Except February, which blah blah blah 

I never really paid attention to the end of that one, so when it’s February I have to google it.  

So tell me, friends: do you have weird little mechanisms like this rattling around in your head?  Or did everyone graduate to just remembering without the songs, tricks, riddles, and repetition?  

I’m having visions of myself in an old folks home mumbling over and over to myself:

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