Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 84 - June 2012 - by Phil Chambers
Celebrating The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Union Jack

TIME TO READ: 4 minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 954. To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us.

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Welcome to the June 2012 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month, as well as our regular quote of the month, Mind Mapping tip and what I have been up to lately, we have an article how to remember birthdays and anniversaries.


Mind Map Tip of the Month

Have fun with visual puns. Humour is one of the best ways to make things memorable.
Even puns that make you groan are memorable simply because they’re so bad!


June's Quote of the Month

"Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us."

~ Oscar Wilde

More quotes here



What's Phil Up To?



I had the pleasure of spending 5 days in the delightful surroundings of Henley-on-Thames Business School training a group of engaged, inspiring and multiply intelligent individuals to be ThinkBuzan Licensed Speed Reading and Memory Instructors. I was co-training with Tony Buzan and learned a great deal myself in the process.

I have also been continuing to implement Accelerated Learning principles in an Adult Education College and have done one-to-one coaching in Memory Techniques in London.


How to Remember Birthdays and Anniversaries

Have you ever forgotten a friend’s birthday, or worse - your wedding anniversary! There are birthday reminder apps for your smart phone and My Calendar on Facebook, or you can always resort to a good old-fashioned book or paper diary. All of these solutions simply let you abdicate responsibility for remembering, they are crutches to compensate for a ‘bad’ memory.

The truth is you have a fantastic memory. If you find yourself forgetting it is just that you haven’t learned to use it correctly.

I will explain how, with a little effort, you can remember birthdays, anniversaries and important dates. It is good mental exercise and fun as well as having the satisfaction of throwing off the shackles of digital dependency.

Numbers and dates are abstract concepts. To quote Douglas Adams, “Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so!” You need to have some way to convert the abstract into something that you can get to grips with in your imagination.

One such method is The Major System. It may seem a bit odd to start with, but stick with me. You represent each digit by a letter code, combine these to make words that you can imagine as pictures. (Memories are essentially pictures in your head).

Here’s the code

0 = s or z
1 = t or t
2 = n
3 = m
4 = r
5 = L
6 = j or sh
7 = k
8 = f or v
9 = b or p

So to code the number 21, you convert it to ‘nt’ and add a vowel that has no meaning to give ‘net’. You can see a picture of a net easier than visualising 21.

This takes care of the number part of a date but what about the month?

You can represent months as numbers (January = 1, February = 2, etc) but this starts to get complex as you’ll have to make up words involving 3 letters. (eg 21st February = 21/2 = ndn which becomes ‘Indian’). I think a better method is to represent months by more direct associations and then use these to ‘modify’ the images generated from the number part of the date. Let me explain…

January = ice and snow (in the northern hemisphere – If you are in Australia you could use a barbecue).
February = associations with Valentine’s Day: Hearts, chocolates, roses, etc.
March = marching soldiers or March hares or Spring flowers
April = rain (April Showers)
May = dancing round a maypole with ribbons and bells
June = sunshine (once again only in the Northern hemisphere)
July = American associations (from Independence Day being 4th July): The statue of liberty, the star spangled banner, etc.
August = Roman associations (August is named after Augustus Cesar): Classical columns, togas, etc.
September = Autumn leaves
October = Halloween associations: Witches, ghosts, pumpkins
November = Guy Fawkes Night associations (in England): Fireworks and bonfires.
December = Christmas associations: Christmas trees, decorations, cards, presents, etc.

As you will start to notice, memory systems tend to be very culturally specific and one person’s associations do not generally correspond with someone else’s. It is always best to come up with your own associations but let’s work with mine as a guide for the time being.

Going back to our example of 21st of February this can be a NeT scooping up chocolates (for Valentine’s Day).

21st June (My Birthday) would be catching the Sun in a NeT.

To remember who each date refers to, just make an additional association. So for my birthday imagine me wielding the net.

Once you have learned two digit codes from 01 = soot to 31 = mat you can code any date and easily remember all the birthdays of your friends and family. You’ll never forget an anniversary again.

If you want to train your memory, remember Memory Ladder is the only memory training app endorsed by the World Memory Sports Council which replicates all 10 disciplines of the World Memory Championships. It is currently available for Android devices but we do have plans for an iphone version.

That’s it for this month. I’ll be back in touch with the next newsletter in July.

Best Wishes