Thursday, January 14, 2010

Introduction to Associative Memory Techniques

Struggling Student's Memory Guide is to help students find ways to use associative memory techniques and quit using rote memorization as much as possible. One of the many ways I think this can be done is by using special memory stories created by instructors and/or their students, and/or people like me who enjoy dabbling with this creative memory technique. I will not bore you with the details of how I believe associative memory techniques work or should be created here, but will allow these details to arise from postings, comments, and questions in the future as I post examples of memory stories and other associative techniques on a daily basis. My examples will be from numerous subjects but mostly they'll be about medical and scientific word parts because: (1) Pragmatically that's what I have the greatest number of associative memory techniques for (my book) and (2) I believe it is possible for every high school student to have a medical or scientific vocabulary by using association to remember medical and scientific word part meanings for a lifetime. So let's get started from the beginning with parts a- and an-.

blue words are common or college terms. reddish brown words are medical terms which should be looked up in a medical dictionary for their figurative meanings.

a-, an- from Gr. means "not, without". [amoral, lit. without morals, atom, lit. uncut, fig. ultimate particle of an element once believed indivisible, anarchy, lit. without rule state, fig. a state of lawlessness or political disorder, anonymous, lit. without a name, fig. bearing no name, identity, or source, acormus, lit. without a trunk, Agamofilaria, lit. an unmarried thread, agenesis, lit. without production, anaerobe, lit. life without air, anaphia, lit. without touch condition, anemia, lit. without blood condition, hemiacardius, lit. without half a heart, prosopoagnasia, lit. without knowledge of faces condition]

Memory story: "Not without an (an-) A (a-) average", taunts your parents by jingling the keys in front of you to that little red sports car parked out in the driveway. [This memory story includes the four words "not without an A" placed in a logical order making it much easier to remember than the original definition. Yes, they require a few repetitions unless you've heard those four words most of your life already.]

Now let's do the USA's Bill of Rights' first amendment. We're going to use the word "run" to remind us of the word "one" and we're going to use the acronym RASP Pie to help us remember freedom of religion, right to assemble, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to petition.

Memory story: The jailers in a foreign country in Southeast Asia have allowed you to have tea with your five friends who have been incarcerated for violating each one of the rights and freedoms in the first amendment. You have surreptitiously brought your friends a RASP Pie or a pie with five rasps in it to cut through the bamboo bars that holds them. Once they've cut through you all run for your lives. [Acronyms are one of my favorite ways to remember a list of things. A perfect acronym is rare so we have to get a bit creative sometimes. Acronyms are a short-term memory technique that requires some repetition but unlike this one we can sometimes do a memory backup with details from the story. See ab- tomorrow for an example.]

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