Editable May 2020 Calendar: -Natural systems of memory culture are based upon the fundamental conception so well expressed by Helvetius, several centuries ago, when he said: “The extent of the memory depends, first, on the daily use we make of it; secondly, upon the attention with which we consider the objects we would impress upon it; and, thirdly, upon the order in which we range our ideas.” This then is the list of the three essentials in the cultivation of the memory: Use and exercise; review and practice; Attention and Interest; and Intelligent Association. You will find that in the several chapters of this book dealing with the various phases of memory, we urge, first, last, and all the time, the importance of the use and employment of the memory, in the way of employment, exercise, practice and review work. Like any other mental faculty or physical function, the memory will tend to atrophy by disuse and increase, strengthen and develop by rational exercise and employment within the bounds of moderation. You develop a muscle by exercise; you train any special faculty of the mind in the same way, and you must pursue the same method in the case of the memory if you would develop it. Nature’s laws are constant, and bear a close analogy to each other.
Editable May 2020 Calendar
You will also notice the great stress that we lay upon the use of the faculty of attention, accompanied by interest. By attention, you acquire the impressions that you file away in your mental record-file of memory. And the degree of attention regulates the depth, clearness, and strength of the impression. Without a good record, you cannot expect to obtain a good reproduction of it. A poor phonographic record results in a poor reproduction, and the rule applies in the case of the memory as well. You will also notice that we explain the laws of association and the principles which govern the subject, as well as the methods whereby the proper associations may be made. Every association that you weld to an idea or an impression, serves as a cross-reference in the index, whereby the thing is found by remembrance or recollection when it is needed.
We call your attention to the fact that one’s entire education depends on its efficiency upon this law of association. It is a most important feature in the rational cultivation of the memory, while at the same time being the bane of the artificial systems. Natural associations educate, while artificial ones tend to weaken the powers of the mind if carried to any great length. There is no Royal Road to Memory. The cultivation of the memory depends upon the practice along with certain scientific lines according to well established psychological laws. Those who hope for a sure “short cut” will be disappointed, for none such exists. As Halleck says: “The student ought not to be disappointed to find that memory is no exception to the rule of improvement by proper methodical and long-continued exercise. There is no royal road, no short cut, to the improvement of either mind or muscle. But the student who follows the rules which psychology has laid down may know that he is walking in the shortest path, and not wandering aimlessly about. Using these rules, he will advance much faster than those without chart, compass, or pilot. He will find mnemonics of extremely limited use. Improvement comes by orderly steps. Methods that dazzle at first sight never give solid results.”
The student is urged to pay attention to what we have to say in other chapters of the book upon the subjects of attention and association. It is not necessary to state here the particulars that we mention there. The cultivation of attention is a prerequisite for good memory, and deficiency in this respect means deficiency not only in the field of memory but also in the general field of mental work. In all branches of The New Psychology, there is found a constant repetition of the injunction to cultivate the faculty of attention and concentration. Halleck says: “Haziness of perception lies at the root of many a bad memory. If perception is definite, the first step has been taken toward insuring a good memory. If the first impression is vivid, its effect upon the brain cells is more lasting. All persons ought to practice their visualizing power. This will react upon perception and make it more definite. Visualizing will also form a brain habit of remembering things pictorially, and hence more exactly.”