Memorize poetry with Spaced Repetition
I must apologize for not finishing the newer post on how I’m doing incremental PDF reading, Somehow, again, I got into some other topic. Still that topic should be covered very shortly as soon as my mind is very clear with the steps involved.
Know, lets get on with the current blog subject.
I never really try to learn anything by rote. At Middle school, verbatim memorization did help me get trough some subjects (history, geography, politics, etc.) which I then considered the most dull and nonsense information a child was obligated to learn.
During college, knowing the big picture was by far much more important most of the time. For the rest, a last night cramming session was normally enough to overcome exam grades requirements on excessively detailed courses like biochemistry, microbiology, parasitology – I wanted to be a sports physician and it all meant to be absolutely unnecessary to the level of using a library index card drawer nowadays.
At this stage of my life, it simply didn’t matter anymore the ability to retain a big portion of text verbatim, let a lone for a very long period of time. Even though it was no longer a requirement for my life and hence it shouldn’t matter anymore. I still felt like this incapability of my brain, to retain every single word in a page, was something I just had to bear trough, the same way I’ve done with not being at least 6 feet tall.
Maybe it was my self analytic way of being. Or perhaps the real reasons to keep coming back to this rote memorization issue had more to do with the fact that some of my peers looked much better suited for the task then me . Yet, many of them didn’t excel in some courses I found fairly easy so it wasn’t a matter of intelligence but of pure wrote memory deficiency.
For me its always been like every word read, either silently or aloud, would go in to my ears pass to the occipital cortex and all the way into the languages processing areas of my brain, but for some bizarre reason this neural voyage did not ever travel down to my Hypocampus. Hence, after more then two days, the only lasting experience retained was that certain day I tried to memorize a piece of text verbatim and again reached to the most fairly common result – forgetting.
Over the last weeks I’ve trying to memorize poems. Not wordy poems, just a couple of English love poems and a nice poem in my first language. An after testing them today I can say, that putting aside the placebo effect of using SuperMemo for the task, I’ve memorized three poems.
I’ve found some ideas on how to make the necessary steps to memorize poems on the supermemopedia, yet the stated recommendations seem to defy current neurocognitive knowledge “rules” so I used a slightly modified version of the procedure.
Basically I made several line clozes from the original poems, as well as a full poem Q&A pair.
Q: Repeat Neruda’s 15th poem
A: [Complete poem here]
This full poem Q&A pair was set to be asked tomorrow (e.a 1 day interval)
The rest of the poem was memorized in a sequential manner, top to bottom using a non randomized Drill sequence. Other wise you don’t get fluently enough to be able to say you know the poem.
I found vital two issues:
You need to included in the cloze question area at least 4 previous lines to the line asked – including the previous paragraph is even better.
- Never include the line following the Cloze you ask in the Question portion of the item.
A Special World
A special world for you and me
A special bond one cannot see
It wraps us up in its cocoon
And holds us fiercely in its womb.
Its fingers spread like fine spun gold
Gently nestling us to the fold
Like silken thread it holds us fast
To consider each repetition correct I repeat aloud the three previous lines to the cloze […] and this normally triggers clozed line’s recall.
It is not completely necessary to include two lines in the answer. Answering the first line is enough to score it as learned (e.a. good), but I prefer to include it because most of the time the answer triggers recall of the next line also. I think this double checking will be useful on the long-term to find the stumbling blocks in recalling this poems.
Trough this simple method I’ve learned three poems by rote and unless they fall into a very low priority queue inside SuperMemo they’ll stay within my neocortex for a long time.
This might seem to many people an complete fruitless investment of time but it all started with the purpose to fill a gap in my current believe that skill is not about the bike. Or as Dr. Carol Dweck (leading researcher in developmental psychology) would put it – since I changed from being an entity learner to an incremental learner.
This method has been useful up to know, anybody tested something like it using SuperMemo or other programs for verbatim memorization. I’d like to hear what you think and what could modified to enhance the method in order to achieve the best time/result ratio.