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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Learning Made Easy--Out of the Minds of Babes


Original Painting by Tracy Gibbons

A Reminder: How Our Minds Work

I love kids' art, don't you? Kids' art speaks to me, and allows me a peek into the inner workings of the innocent mind-- and reminds me how my own mind works too.

To Bathe~ To wash sadness from the mind was painted by my daughter, Tracy, when she was a young girl. I added the words to reflect what I saw in the girl's eyes. I love this picture because it always reminds me of my daughter.

This painting hangs in my bathroom where I see it daily. When my eyes light on the image, my mind freely flits from one memory to another and from one feeling to another, bathing me with good emotions.

Memories Associated with Images

Our brains are amazing in how easily they pull up memories associated with images. I have whole stories emerge into my consciousness when I see Tracy's painting.

One of the memories that emerged from the deep recesses of my mind is how Tracy first learned to read.

When she was four she attended a Montessori school where the teacher had the children draw a picture of an object and the adults wrote the name of the object next to the word. This picture became the flash card for the child to name the object. What amazed me was how primitive the picture was and how it held meaning for the child. Here, let me show you.

This is an Elephant

This was Tracy's picture of an elephant. Not much to look at for adults, but she drew it and she gave the image its meaning. That's all she needed to recall elephant when the picture was flashed.

Your Brain is Primitive too!

Have you ever played Pictionary--the game in which you draw a picture of the word or phrase you want your team to guess? If you have, I'm sure you've been amazed by adults guessing a word by a simple drawing, much like Tracy's elephant. No one needs to be an artist to play. In fact, it might work against you if you are an artist, and you're too concerned about what the picture looks like.

This is Good News!

Whether you're five, fifty-five or 100, you need to learn new things every day in school, at work, or in life. Sometimes you just need to have something stick to your brain that's just a bunch of facts or trivia--like the name and period of works of art for an art class, the pathway for locating the computer screen on the electronic medical record, or the location of a Costco in another town with a gas station.

By putting your primitive, non-artist mind to work for you creating images associated with what you need to remember and recall you can create easy to pull up images.

How Sylvia, the Wily, Wise-cracking Cartoon Character Helps me Find Costco

I recently visited my 94 year old father in my home town. With gas prices so high, I wanted to remember where the Costco with the gas station was located. Truth be told, I've visited and asked for directions to this Costco many times before and failed to put the directions to memory. This time I decided to use what I know and create an image that sticks.

Driving directions are a bunch of facts-- and the brain doesn't remember facts-- it remembers meaning and strong visual images. I needed to remember two roads-- highway 84 and Middlefield road-- and I needed a way to link them together in my memory.

I thought 84 was sort of like middle age, and that made me think of Sylvia the wily wise-cracking character. She certainly would think 84 was middle age. This made me smile....and I knew I was on my way to creating an image I wouldn't forget. I blazed the image of Sylvia riding a rocket down highway 84, holding a martini, and turning right on Middlefield road. As you can see, I haven't forgotten the image yet--and I won't.  I've used two of three keys to memory--imagination and association.

Make Learning Easy

What has been stressing you out? What do you need to get into your memory and be able to recall at will? How can you use your imagination and association to create an image that will stick?

Go ahead--have fun creating a picture story to help you remember and recall something you need to learn. Start with something small. You'll be amazed at what a boost in confidence it gives you.

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