Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Other Memory Work

Day 14~

If we keep in mind Stratford Caldecott's definition of the grammar stage as "remembering," we can avoid making the mistake of looking at memorization as something to help us keep information sorted in our mind. Of course, that is one way of using memorization but it is the least useful way for our purpose of training the affections of our children.

So far we have talked about memorizing songs, Psalms, creeds and catechisms, Bible passages, and poetry.  In a way that is just the beginning. Before we ever break out the periodic table of elements or the math flashcards, there are still myriads of things which will order our children towards truth, beauty and goodness.

The most obvious choices come from history. Primary source documents can be memorized. Every American child should know The Bill of Rights.

Speeches of great men such as Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., and Patrick Henry can be memorized.

Parts of pamphlets can be memorized:
 "These are the times that try men's souls..."  by Thomas Paine
 "Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen..." by Samuel Adams.

This is how these words seep into our hearts and come out again in our own speech and writing.

The Declaration of Independence is a document so rich in use of language that just memorizing it will inform the minds of your children in ways I cannot even begin to explain and it may teach them logic too.

There are lists that are worth our time. We particularly love memorizing the presidents. Every other week or so we have a presidents bee to see how many we can name. This is the kind of information that the children love to have because they run across it in life and can make connections.

The names of the planets or the oceans or continents are also things that can help in the science of relation.

I have found if something can be learned by way of flashcards or the computer, it might not be something we need to cover in MT. I am thinking of things like States and Capitals. But memorizing the Presidents is something else altogether. Each time we have a presidents bee it gives us a chance to discuss different presidents. I often give hints such as, "He was considered one of the worst presidents," or, "His wife was called Lemonade Lucy."   It becomes a way to play with a timeline and picture the past as it moves towards where we ourselves stand in time.

We are not memorizing these things as a utility but rather as a way of being connected to the past or being connected to truth or goodness or beauty. This sort of information should not puff us up as know-it-all smart-alecs but this sort of memorization should humble us as we apply it to the future.

Each day after we have worked on our poetry we move into our last memorization category which I have ingeniously called Misc. Memory.   There I put all those extra things I want us to remember and contemplate.  As with the other categories, we always had a new part where we were working on something over many weeks repeating it daily, and a review part where we read or recite something from the past. Our misc. memory list is not long but it does contain some of the most important things we have memorized for ordering our minds.

Suggestion of the Day for Morning Time Memory:

The Preamble to the Constitution

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

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