Face Blind Tortured Bunnies and Eidetic Supertramp

Memorization though tortured bunnies

When my oldest child was little and I was new to homeschooling, resources for non-Christian based homeschooling were few. I often bought religious themed curriculum plans and either modified, added to, or threw out entirely what seemed unnecessary, too shallow, or unhealthy.

One suggested method for training the memory was memorizing and reciting lines of scripture and famous speeches. Instead we learned poetry from the popular down to the obscure and sometimes strange.

Here is one of the strange ones.

I love it for its multisyllabic run of strange words and the notion that something must be artificially modified in order to be “safe.”

It sounds crazy, but how often do we attempt to alter natural states into something more acceptable? respectable?

(logical…cynical, vegetable. great. supertramp is my head. again. ohh well. theres worse I suppose)

While I think its a fun thing to have a few interesting bit of poetry in ones head, this is NOT really how we commit most things to memory at all.

Photographic Vocabulary and the Eidetic Reader

Memory is more about building connections via associations to things we already know.

My memory almost got me into trouble in high school.

After my first vocabulary test  I was kept after class  by my English teacher.

“You wrote your answers word for word from the my study sheet. Do you have a photographic memory?”


(quite a bit of staring and silence followed)

“Prove it.” she said, and handed me a blank test form.

And so I sat with her hovering while I rewrote everything I had previously.

While I do  have an impeccable memory for things I have read, sometimes even remembering what the page looked like, I do not have a photographic memory. What is called photographic or eidetic, is in reality just good chunking and encoding.

Ever wonder how autistic people become seemingly expert in arcane subjects quite quickly? A determined focus and good encoding is the answer.

Think of it like google.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but lets run with it.

If you search for something using general terms, you retrieve a lot of garbage.  Using quotes and specific tags helps make results more accurate.  So too if you build upon knowledge with more and more specific knowledge, you can remember quite a bit of information, and the more specific the encoding the better the retrieval.

This is why, when raising children,  we must provide a rich enough environment that there are many different opportunities for making and expressing (very important) connections with things already learned.

This is real learning, not parlor trick recitation.

Knowing how to efficiently learn doesn’t make a person some super human recording machine.

I also have a memory problem.

I find myself continuously forgetting names (always) and faces. It has been my whole life, that I have a hard time remembering people, especially outside of context. My work around has been to talk to them about general things until hopefully something they say helps me remember them. The most embarrassing time was when I didn’t recognize my sons’ speech therapist at the grocery store, and she had to remind me.

I also have problems attending to spoken communication (music is an exception) with no visual component. I forget phone conversations. My mind, as something reminds of something else continuously, strays in conversations. I have trouble attending to lectures without numerous visual aids. I forget mundane things.   I was told after IQ testing/psych eval.  that I have an astounding working memory, but that I don’t attend well to incoming auditory or visual information especially in social contexts.

I can remember century old poetry and often forget I put the kettle on. I’ll get so absorbed I forget to eat.

I manage this via

  • keeping lists and a schedule
  • repeating back things said to confirm and writing down
  • avoiding phone convo. when I can help it
  • asking questions, focusing on interesting details when talking to others
  • mind mapping lectures and other projects
  • attending to tasks in the kitchen if I have a burner on

A priority I have is to teach ALL the children how to manage daily tasks via organizational tools. I don’t want them to have figure it out like did, through embarrassing trial and error.


One thought on “Face Blind Tortured Bunnies and Eidetic Supertramp

  1. Madeleine Bolger says:

    i think I’m good at analyzing processes of thought and memory, but you take it to another level. I don’t have an eidetic memory, but it seemed that way when I was a child because I always thought in analogies.
    I wish I had read this ten years ago. I wish I had your ability, your sheer talent, for thinking about these things and putting them into action.
    If you developed homeschooling materials into a system, with special Ed modifications, you could do really well. Maybe when your kids are older.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s