I was reading in one of those [actually good] books on teaching autistic spectrum kids about changes you can make in your teaching style that will help make your lessons clearer to visual learners yesterday, when one particular section caught my eye. One of the librarians there checked it out from another library and brought it to the TWU library for me to look at, because she knows I have an interest in the subject. As a result, I couldn’t take it with me, but I could sit down and read it there, which I did. I read nearly the entire thing in about 30 minutes (it had lots of visual aids – 🙂 . . . ).
Anyway, there was a section on memory, but specifically memory in relation to those on the spectrum (a lady I know calls us spectrumites; I really like that and think I’ll start using it, if there are no objections). There were like four sections, but I’ll probably only remember three and I probably won’t use the right names – lol.
The basic gist is that there are different types of ways of remembering: a way that relates to things that are practical in nature, that we remember because we’ve done them ourselves and understand why we do them; memories that don’t have much of an impact on us, because we don’t see the reason for doing or knowing the specific task/idea to begin with, so it doesn’t stick; there’s also the usual long term and short term memory thing; the book said that spectrumites tend to store things in the wrong section; like instead of storing something in short term memory where it will be easily accessible, we stick it in long term. Now, I don’t know just how to fix that, apparently I stored the answer to that in the wrong part of my brain, but one thing I do remember that it said was that the phrase, “use it or lose it,” is particularly true in spectrumites.
This goes far to explain a lot of things in my life, and I imagine in the lives of others. Spectrumites, according to the book, don’t hold onto knowledge the same way most people do. If they aren’t practicing or actively participating in some skills, they just simply lose them.
For me, this explains some of my math problems. Well, my number one problem with math (starting with pre-algebra and up) is a comprehension issue, but the leading second most problem here is that I simply can’t retain the skills that I do manage to acquire in regards to mathematical concepts. In school, this wasn’t simply a problem of remembering ideas from semester to semester, but rather month to month and sometimes week to week. Every time I faced a particular concept was like learning it all over new. Even with subjects that I like (ie – music theory, which trust me, is a lot like math, only easier to understand), I have this same problem. I had to take music theory and music history placement tests when I first came to grad school last semester. As a result of my summer schedule, I hadn’t had much (read “any”) time to study prior to just a few days before the test was slated to be given. I didn’t have time to study for both, so I studied for theory, figuring that I had done pretty good back in the day, so it would make sense for me to still be able to do it.
WRONG. I could reteach myself the concepts, and thank god by the time I took music theory in undergrad, I had started taking pretty good notes, but I didn’t actually remember how to do hardly any of it; except for the parts that I use in every day playing–like key signatures. Man, and I got a good memory trick for key signatures too (not that I need it anymore, but there was a time . . .). Here’s the order of sharps, right: CGDAEBF#C#. And here’s the mnemonic:
If an idea tickles me, I’m more likely to remember it. If I use something nearly every day in my regular life, then I’m more likely to remember it. For me to just learn something and then come back to it 2 years later, I might as well not have learned it to begin with, because while I might remember the names of some of the concepts, there’s very little chance that I’ll actually remember the concepts themselves. And man, that’s with music theory! Dude, I loved music theory! I made an A in all three levels; which trust me, is not an easy experience.
So this theory placement test, right? Well, I had to make a 70 on it to pass; let’s see here, if I’m remembering correctly, I made a 74 and praised god for it. It would have been higher, but there was this one section where I was supposed to write down the melody of “Happy Birthday,” just based on hearing the notes in my head, yes? Well, I can do that easily enough, but generally speaking, teachers don’t like it when you’re supposed to be writing something in Treble Clef and you accidentally switch into Bass Clef.
Oy. Let’s just say that it’s a French horn thing and leave it at that. On the amateur and professional level, French horns are all the time switching into bass clef—an annoying occurrence.
As for the music history placement test, I totally bombed it with something dismal like a 45. But I just retook it at the beginning of this semester, after rereading the entire 500 page book in two days (I got distracted over Christmas, geez), and made a 72. 🙂 And I think I knew more after two days of teaching the material to myself than I did after three semesters of taking the course itself.
Damn, I should just have learned it on my own to begin with.
Another thing that also can hinder your ability to remember something is the amount of stress that you’re under. This I remember from another source just because it piqued my interest, because it related to me. Remember in my last post how I talked about schedules and all? And how I took 12 semesters one semester? Well what I ironically forgot to tell you was that ever since that semester, my short term memory has been really sucky. I mean, it wasn’t stupendous prior to that, but afterwards it was just plain lousy.
Oh and speaking of visual learners, if you haven’t done so before, you should check out the link on right hand side of my site under the section called “*Community Related Links,” called “I Think In Pictures, You Teach In Words. Learn About Gifted Visual Learners.”