Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 112 - November 2014 - by Phil Chambers

TIME TO READ: 4 minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 868 To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us or read my book ‘Brilliant Speed Reading’.

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

This month we have a Halloween inspired story about memory techniques. As always, we have our regular features of Quote of the month, Mind Map Tip and What I’m up to.


November's Quote of the Month

"Never make your home in a place.
Make a home for yourself inside your own head.
You'll find what you need to furnish it - memory,
friends you can trust, love of learning,
and other such things.
That way it will go with you wherever you journey."

~ Tad Williams, American storyteller and Fantasy author.

More quotes here


Mind Map Top Tip of the Month

Size your central image appropriately. It needs to be big enough to stand out and be the largest image on the page, but small enough to allow plenty of room to develop your ideas. As rough guide, if you’re using A3 paper make the central image between 6 and 10 centimetres square. On A4 paper, about 4 centimetres square.

101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps

What's Phil Up To?

Phil Chambers

In two weeks’ time I will be running a Memory Seminar in London. (Still time to book a last minute place).I am running Speed Reading training for a family, Mind Mapping coaching to help a businessman organise his use of time and, at the end of November, working with Tony Buzan on the ThinkBuzan train the trainer programme for new Memory and Speed Reading instructors. I am also working on the preparations for the World Memory Championships that will take place China in December.


Memory - Tick or Treat?

Happy Halloween! The time when ghosties of ghoulies roam the land. I’m not worried about being caught by the ghosties!

Halloween is a time to play ‘Trick or Treat’. As I am preoccupied with memory at the moment, preparing for my Memory Seminar in two weeks time and The World Memory Championships in December, this set me thinking. Many people regard memory techniques as tricks - Some kind of deception or false gimmick only useful to enter competitions and memorise useless things like thousands of binary digits or the order of playing cards. Mnemonists are regarded in the same terms as conjurers. This is grossly unfair. I see memory techniques as treats for the following four reasons.

1) Memorising is a creative and enjoyable pastime.

If you watch memory championships it looks like mental torture. People staring at pages of numbers or sitting with their heads in their hands. It is a great shame that you cannot see what is going on in the competitors’ heads. They are indulging in fantasies, making up fantastical stories and running through strangely populated landscapes. Despite outward appearances they are having tremendous fun.

2) Memory techniques make life easier and better.

If you are studying, especially something you find boring, it can be a huge struggle. With a small investment of your time in leaning the right techniques, you can make learning almost effortless. Names of people come to mind instantly. You can remember what you need to do in your work or daily life. Birthdays and anniversaries are never forgotten. You always have facts and figures accessible in your head without resorting to Google.

3) Using memory techniques is excellent mental exercise.

Memorising is a workout for your imagination and activates the whole brain. In recent years there had been an explosion of interest in keeping your brain fit and warding off senility. Doctor Kawashima’s Brain Training game published by Nintendo has sold over 19 million copies worldwide. However, there is no scientific validation that it has any mental benefits. If you improve you ‘brain age’ score all this indicates is that you have got better at the specific puzzles in the game. On the other hand, there is a growing body of research which indicates that training your working memory improves fluid intelligence and real life problem solving abilities.

4) Memory is the most egalitarian sport.

Most physical sports are based on a real activity that is standardised and abstracted. Running, jumping, throwing and catching are all activities that everyone can do to some extent. Sports take these to ultimate extremes such that only very talented individuals with huge amounts of dedication can achieve success. Usain Bolt, Mo Farrah and Jessica Ennis are superhuman in their abilities. Memory, however, is open to everyone. To become World Champion takes hundreds of hours of practise but you only need a matter of minutes to eclipse an average memory. Anyone, with the right techniques, can achieve far more than even psychologists thought possible a decade ago.

That's all for this month. Look out for the next edition in December.

Best Wishes