How To Memorize: Part 3

  This is a continuation of prior blogs offering a digest of William’s Evans, How To Memorize, published in Chicago n 1909.

Chapter 5: Preliminary Suggestions for the Training of the Memory

  1. Each suggestion must be followed to the letter.
  2. There should be daily practice to insure the greatest possible amount of benefit. Set aside, if possible, the same hour each day in the same place. The morning is the best.
  3. Be content, at first, with the mastery of a little each day. Many people fail in memory work by trying to accomplish too much at one sitting. Word upon word, line upon line, precept upon precept—let this be your rule.
  4. Take pleasure in your study. Make yourself believe you like it whether you do or not. We learn easiest what we enjoy. Delight yourself, therefore, in your work and great results can be expected.
  5. Learn your lesson with the intention of remembering it forever.  Many students learn a lesson merely for the recitation in class or for examination. Never cram for an occasion, but learn forever.
  6. Remember that the aim is not the accumulation of a mass of memorized material, but to build up, strengthen, and train the memory to do its appointed work.
  7. Be sure not to take up a second verse until you have thoroughly mastered the first.

 Chapter 7: Attention, or Fixity of Thought

 A poor memory has its origin in inattention. The secret of a good memory is our interest in and attention to a subject, as we rarely forget what has strongly impressed our minds. Attention is the directing of the mental powers to a specific object to the exclusion of all other objects. It means the setting of the mind upon a certain definite task. It is the power of mental concentration. The ability to fix our thought on what we desire to memorize is the first essential principle in the training of a good memory. To pin the thought, to fasten the attention on, and to allow no mind-wandering from the subject, to determine that the mind shall stretch itself over the subject under consideration in such a way as to shut out every intruding thought—this is to make memorizing pos interesting and delightful. A good memory is not to be expected until this power of attention is attained. If your mind wanders bring it back again, and again, and yet again. Train your mind to read without wandering. Practice reading long passages of Milton, Shakespeare, or Emerson without letting the thoughts wander. The human mind is a great tramp; cure it of its vagrancy by keeping it at home. History tells us that so great was the power of concentration possessed by a writer in the time of the French Revolution that, although people were being massacred right under the window of the room in which he was engaged in writing a book, yet so absorbed was he in his subject that he knew nothing of what was happening on the outside until told afterward.


4 thoughts on “How To Memorize: Part 3

  1. These posts on How to Memorize remind me of a man who spoke at my church here in Portland recently about how to memorize Scripture–he used the word “internalize.” His main thrust was that we have a hard time with it because we look at it as a dry study we must learn. If we instead immerse ourselves and find the joy and life in what is on the pages, memorization will come naturally. Evans touched on this with mentioning “interest” in chapter 7, but he’s still focusing on this as an intellectual regimen. It’s like when we unintentionally memorize a song we enjoy: We memorize not because we try to, but because we like it and we hear it repeatedly. Check him out, since I know you’ve had a long-term interest in this subject, as I have:

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