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To Build a Brain That's Really Wise,

Come On, Dude, Let's Memorize


For snack, have some whole-grain crackers, and say aloud and memorize as many lines as you can from the box or wrapper. After this activity, see how much of it you remember.




Why is memorization important? In this day and age, with unlimited information at our fingertips available with a few keystrokes on an Internet search engine, who cares how much you "know by heart" any more?


But oh, yes, memorization is crucial to being smart. Here's why: the faster you can memorize things accurately, the faster you can apply that information to other information, and come up with thoughts, opinions, ideas and insights. The hard work that it takes to develop good memorization skills also gives you self-discipline, which is perhaps the most important ingredient of all.


If you don't have very much information already safely deposited in your memory banks, then it just takes you that much longer to learn new material so that you can learn MORE new material to put together. You get a slow start on the learning track, which makes it that much harder to succeed.


The No. 1 difference between a student who does very well in school, and one who does not, is much more easily measured by memorization ability than intelligence per se. It is only applied intelligence that really pays off. The speed of acquiring new information depends in large part to how well you've trained yourself to memorize.


Memorization skills are most obvious in the important areas of reading and writing:


● If you have memorized the principles of English grammar and punctuation, and know the differences in the parts of speech by heart, you can put words together more successfully and write meaningful text more quickly and accurately than students who have not.


● If you have memorized the rules of spelling, you can apply those rules instantly to unfamiliar words and spell words correctly the first time, so you don't have to waste time looking them up in the dictionary, or worse, getting them marked as wrong in your papers.


● In reading, if you were taught to read with phonics, you have committed the rules of phonetics to memory, and automatically decode words using those memorized rules, whether you are conscious of it or not. If not, then the farther along you go in school, the more difficult the text is going to be for you.


Convinced? Well, then, let's go to work on your memorization skills. What better way than the old-fashioned way - memorizing and reciting poetry! The rhythm of verse is a huge help to memorizing ideas, and memorizing poetry will jump-start your brain in important ways.


Start off with a couple lines of verse, then memorize a poem of about 10 lines, and work your way up to an entire, lengthy poem. Then memorize another one, and then another. Just read a line out loud, think what it means, read it out loud again, then cover the text and say it from memory. Do that line by line, adding a line each practice session, 'til you have it down pat. Keep a list of the poems you have memorized, and practice them from time to time. Impress your friends - and most of all, take pride in your accomplishments.


You'll be amazed how developing your memory will help you in all kinds of reading and writing - even forms of reading and writing that have nothing whatsoever to do with poetry, but involve science or history or even on-the-job communication tasks.


That's because with memorization skills, you're building your brain - remember?


Here are three poems - short, medium, and long -- to get you started:





If a task is once begun

Never leave it till it's done.

Be the labor great or small

Do it well or not at all.


-- Anonymous



From Rabbi Ben Ezra


Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in his hand

Who saith: "A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God, see all, nor be afraid."


Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,

Or what's a heaven for?

-- Robert Browning





I love you,

Not only for what you are,

But for what I am

When I am with you.

I love you,

Not only for what

You have made of yourself,

But for what

You are making of me.


I love you

For the part of me

That you bring out;

I love you

For putting your hand

Into my heaped-up heart

And passing over

All the foolish, weak things

That you can't help

Dimly seeing there,

And for drawing out

Into the light

All the beautiful belongings

That no one else had looked

Quite far enough to find.


I love you because you

Are helping me to make

Of the lumber of my life

Not a tavern

But a temple;

Out of the works

Of my every day

Not a reproach

But a song.


I love you

Because you have done

More than any creed

Could have done

To make me good,

And more than any fate

Could have done

To make me happy.

You have done it

Without a touch,

Without a word,

Without a sign.

You have done it

By being yourself;

Perhaps that is what

Being a friend means

After all.

-- Anonymous


By Susan Darst Williams Brainstorming 02 2008

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