Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 51 - September 2009 - by Phil Chambers


TIME TO READ: 4 minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 961. To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us.

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Welcome to the September 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 Phil’s Up To’ we have news from the UK Open Memory Championships and the main article on ‘How to Remember Mathematical Equations’.

What's Phil Up To?

Phil's Photo

I am running a public course in London on Mind Mapping, Memory, Speed Reading and Study Skills on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th September. There is limited space available if you would like to book but I must know by September 5th. Click here for more info.

On 24th September I fly to Sweden to oversee the running of the first ever Swedish Memory Championships taking place at Universeum in Gothenburg.


September's Quote of the Month


"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself but talent instantly recognises genius."

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the Sherlock Holmes story The Valley Of Fear

More Quotes Here


Mind Map Tip of the Month

Leave sufficient space between sets of branches – This is what former World Mind Mapping Champion, Elaine Colliar calls the ‘Feng Shui’ of Mind Mapping. Tony Buzan says, “Taken to its logical conclusion, the space between items can be as important as the items themselves”.


News from the UK Open Memory Championships

15th and 16th August saw competitors from England, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Wales converge on The Strand Palace Hotel to engage in mental combat.

The competition was won, as was expected, by World Champion Ben Pridmore. However, the biggest surprise of the competition came from 15 year-old Eva Ball from Coventry who the previous month won the Schools Memory Championships. In her first ever time attempting to memorise Names and Faces in a competition she took the Gold medal! Read more about the Championships here.


How to Remember Mathematical Equations

I was recently asked the question, “Could you also tell me technique to remember long and complex algebra?”

As this is a common problem for students of maths, physics and engineering, I thought it would be a good topic for this month’s newsletter.

Many years ago, whist studying Physics and Chemistry at University, I developed a system for mathematical formulae.The system works as follows...

Each element of the formula is converted into a concrete image (usually by a rhyme). I have listed some of my associations below but your own idiosyncratic images will be best for you:

Roman Alphabet

A = Hay
B = Bee
C = Sea
D = Deer
E = Ear
F = Fir
G = half a horse (a GG is s horse!)
H = H-Bomb
I = Eye
J = Jay (the bird)
K = Cake
L = Shell (or fire and brimstone of hell)
M = Emma Thompson (or anyone you know called Emma or Emily)
N = Hen
O = Oak
P = Pea
Q = Queue of people (or if you prefer a snooker cue)
R = Aardvark
S = Snake (hissing)
T = Tea
U = U-boat
V = Winton Churchill (‘V’ for victory sign)
W = Two sheep (double ewe!)
X = X-ray
Y = Wine
Z = Zebra

Greek Alphabet

alpha = alfalfa
Beta = beater
Gamma = hammer

Numbers via the Number Shape system

1 = candle
2 = swan
3 = heart
4 = sail boat
5 = hook
6 = elephant with curled round trunk
7 = axe
8 = hour glass
9 = tennis racket
0 = ball

Mathematical Operators

x (times) = Newspaper
/ (divide or 'over' = Cricket Ball
- (minus) = Midas & Gold
+ (add) = Adam & FIg leaf
Powers = battery and number for order of power (eg to the power 3 is a battery and a heart)

To remember a specific formula you create a mental route (a journey you know well with definite landmarks in a specific sequence along the way).

For example...

Your front door
Your garden path
Your Gate
A streetlamp
A Tree
The corner shop etc.

At each location position the object for that part of the formula...

Ohm's Law: V = I R

V : Winston Churchill with V for victory sign (he is standing outside your front door.
= : and eagle swoops down and lands on your front path (eagle sounds like equals)
I : there is a giant eyeball where your gate usually is (eye sounds like I)
R : an aardvark is hanging from the streetlamp (aardvark sounds like R)

This is a very simple example but you can extend the idea for long formulae. Also, you don't get confused as Winston Churchill outside your front door is different to another equation where he may be in the supermarket, for example.

It may sound complicated but once you get used to forming the pictures in your head and having fun with it the process becomes easier.

Remember that you have to be able to understand how to apply the formulae that you learn (and in some cases derive them) so make sure that you do plenty of past exam papers to get used to answering the type of questions you could be asked.

That’s it for this month. Look out for the next newsletter at the beginning of October and feel free to be in touch in the meantime.

My contact details are here.

Best Wishes