Memory! What is it good for? Absolutely everything!

Memory strategies can sharpen memory!

Learning memory strategies has always interest me. While reading the Tampa Bay Times last week, I came across an interesting article about learning effective strategies to improve memory. This article was so interesting and I believe beneficial to all, especially students, I decided to write about it and share it with my community.

I often think about medical students and the large amounts of information they are required to learn in such a short time. How do they do it? Come to find out, they use memory strategies, such as those shared by Dave Farrow, a memory expert, and founder of The Farrow Method. According to Mr. Farrow, memory strategies do not include rote memory, reviewing or repeating something repeatedly until its memorized. Actual techniques learned in short amounts of time are better.

Three memory techniques by Dave Farrow

In the article, Mr. Farrow shared three techniques he used to become a Guinness record holder at the age of 21 when he memorized and recalled 3,068 cards in order.

  • One technique called the focus technique;  involves writing a story for a full five minutes. He said, “The point is to give something your absolute concentration to determine how much you can accomplish in five-minute intervals.” Mr. Farrow goes on to say that, “… the principal of focus allows the brain to accomplish simple, direct instructions. One is more likely to get it done if it is five minutes.”
  • Additionally,  Farrow says, “When one needs to recall something or a place one has been, ask focused questions about what you’re trying to look for that you know the answer to, such as color, where bought or what is a significant place marker. He says these questions help to get around the mental block.”  Mr. Farrow says, “If a person has trouble remembering something, it is likely there wasn’t a strategy in place to remember it.”
  • Another technique Farrow discussed was rarity, this strategy he said is, “left over from our hunter-gather days.”  In nature, rarity is associated with danger, and this danger association is what a memory is according to Farrow.  Lastly, Farrow says, “Another way to remember something is to look up when trying to recall information. Doing this activates the optic nerve, which helps direct energy in our brains.”

Rote memorization deserving of change.

As an educator, I often employ memory strategies. Rote memorization is a technique I am very familiar with employing with students for certain subject matter (e.g., math facts); however this technique is deserving of change according to Farrow. Especially, when working with certain student populations. Such as those identified as dyslexic or having attention deficit disorder, which identified Farrow while in school. He said, a teacher told him, because his grades were low and he performed poorly in school he would not amount to much, Farrow, out to prove the teacher wrong, became ‘obsessed” with memory tactics to overcome his challenges.  Farrow suggests introducing memorization techniques as early as middle school. I say earlier if techniques and strategies are available

Some final words from the Tampa Bay Times article about improving memory. Mr. Farrow says, “Memory exercises offer a preventive effect on memory loss and dementia. However, not all brain training is brain exercise. Playing Sudoku and crossword puzzles are not brain exercise.” Therefore, when desiring to improve memory, recall information, aid learners-utilize a strategy or technique.


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