Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Memorizing the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America

The goal of Struggling Student's Memory Guide is to develop ways to use association and mnemonic memory techniques, instead of rote memorization, to remember educational information we can use for a lifetime.

We've already covered ways to memorize the Bill of Rights amendments. I wanted everyone to use the Loci technique on something less challenging like the fifth amendment before we took up the Preamble.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Loci technique and don't want to go back to my fifth amendment blog, it's making visual associations to things in a place we're very familiar with like our house, school, job, or shopping mall.

To memorize the Preamble I'm going to ask you to use a drive through fast food restaurant you frequent as a Loci and I want you to pretend you're the manager or owner. But first we need the Preamble.

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Memory Story in a Loci: You're standing at the drive up window of your restaurant when here comes your most difficult customers. It's the Weed People of the United States, [We the People of the United States] a rather strange back to nature group that covers themselves with weeds and who live only in the United States.

They come up to your drive-up window and they give you an order to form a more perfect onion, [in order to form a more perfect union]. It seems they're very particular about the appearance of your fried onion blossom specialty and want their order done again right.

You turn to your helper Justice who is putting on her makeup again. "Is that blush Justice?" [establish justice] you ask her. Why Justice puts on makeup all the time is a mystery since Justice is blind but she's great at forming perfect onion blossoms.

Now you leave the cooking area and enter the customer section where you must make your own loci associations. You go to the next loci to insure a dome is sick of tranquilizers [insure domestic tranquility] by pouring more tranquilizers down it's throat until the dome throws them up.

Then you provide for the common "D" fence, [provide for the common defense] by stacking up the new D shaped fence parts that surround your restaurant. You're always having them stolen by people with the initial D and have to provide new ones all the time.

Then you go over and promote the General's welfare. [promote the general welfare] The General's a broken down old guy but you try to make sure he gets enough to eat and you call him general because he's always wearing worn out camouflage uniforms with stars on the collars. Poor old guy but with your promotion you can always get a customer to buy him a meal.

And then you secure the blessings of Lady Liberty to yourself and all the customers that she tosses her blessings to with safety pins. [and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves] Lady Liberty comes in from church and wants to bless everyone so she's made up little paper blessings and your customers love to secure the blessings to their shirts and dresses.

Any blessings that don't get picked up you pin to all your posters in the windows. [and our posterity]

Then you go over and put a hairdo on your dane. [do ordain] Yea, your great dane looks kind of strange with that "do" job but the customers love to see him and his latest hairstyle. This week he looks like Elvis.

Oh no. Is that blush all over your next loci? [and establish]

Your next restaurant loci has a giant copy of the Constitution connected to it somehow. [this Constitution]

Your next restaurant loci has a golfer yelling "fore". [for]

And now the struck golf ball goes flying smack into a map of the United States of America. [the United States of America]

Visually run the Preamble loci around in your head for a day or two until you've got it down and then I'm going to ask you to try something different just for fun. Say the Preamble backwards using the phrases you memorized it in. [the United States of America, for, this Constitution, and establish, do ordain, etc.] Then leave the preamble alone for a month and see how much you remember.

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