- Sep 2021
<small><cite class='h-cite via'>ᔥ <span class='p-author h-card'>FARNAM STREET </span> in Why Math Class Is Boring—and What to Do About It (<time class='dt-published'>09/01/2021 09:22:50</time>)</cite></small>
- May 2021
@MMScotofGlasgow, Hopefully it's not too late...
Francis Yates discusses Petrus Ramus as an educational reformer in Chapter 10 and onward in The Art of Memory. There she outlines Ramus' crusade against images (based in part on the admonition from 4 Deuteronomy about graven images) and on their prurient use (sex, violence, etc.) which were meant to make things more memorable. Ramism caught on in the late 1500's and essentially removed memory by the root from the subject of rhetoric of which it had been an integral part. Ramus felt that structure and rote memorization would suffice in its stead. As a result the method of loci decreased in prominence in schools and disappeared from the scene based on educational reform which was primarily pushed by Huguenot/Protestants. I've not read anywhere that the practice was ever banned, it just fell out of fashion due to these reforms.
I'm sure it didn't help that printed books became ever cheaper during/after this time and so the prior need to memorize for those reasons wasn't helped either.
I'm sure another confounding factor was Erasmus' Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style (1512) which dramatically popularized the keeping and use of commonplace books by the learned and literate. These became a regular place in which people collected and kept their thoughts and ideas rather than memorizing them as they may have done in the past.
The foremost consideration with respect to teaching of the Australian Aboriginal memory technique is the cultural safety aspect and respect for the peoples who developed this approach. In our program, the teaching of this program was administered by an experienced Australian Aboriginal Educator, who was able to integrate the method into our teaching program, while simultaneously preventing several breaches of cultural etiquette and terminology which could easily have compromised the material had it been delivered by a non-Australian Aboriginal educator (TY), however well-intentioned. The need for a deep knowledge and understanding of the appropriate context for teaching and delivery of this material is probably the main factor which would preclude more widespread adoption of this technique.
I really appreciate the respect given to indigenous knowledge here.
The researchers could have gone much further in depth in describing it and the aspects of what they mean by cultural "safety". They've done a disservice here by downplaying widespread adoption. Why not? Why couldn't we accord the proper respect of traditions to actively help make these techniques more widespread? Shouldn't we be willing to do the actual work to accord respect and passing on of these knowledges?
Given my reading in the area, there seems to be an inordinate amount of (Western) "mysticism" attributed to these techniques (here and in the broader anthropology literature) rather than approaching them head-on from a more indigenous perspective. Naturally the difficult part is being trusted enough by tribal elders to be taught these methods to be able to pass them on. (Link this idea to Tim Ingold's first chapter of Anthropology: Why It Matters.)
All this being said, the general methods known from the West, could still be modified to facilitate in widespread adoption of those techniques we do know. Further work and refinement of them could continue apace while still maintaining the proper respect of other cultures and methods, which should be the modern culture default.
If nothing else, the West could at least roll back the educational reforms which erased their own heritage to regain those pieces. The West showing a bit of respect for itself certainly wouldn't be out of line either.
The qualitative data collected in this project clearly indicate that this learning approach is pleasurable and productive in itself, and may well have a role in decreasing the ‘drudgery’ often associated with modern higher education.
This idea has been known historically for centuries. It's only with education "reforms" in the 1500's that things have become markedly worse in Western education.
It is thus argued that early exposure to the Australian Aboriginal approach to pedagogy in a respectful, culturally safe manner, has the potential to benefit medical students and their patients.
Forget medical students and patients, this could broadly be applied to everyone everywhere! Why limit it to simply medical education?
Most (95%) students indicated that they found the technique effective, and over half (56%) indicated that they would definitely employ the method in their future studies.
However, I suspect that without prompting or repeated uses and examples, the percentage of students who actually do is likely abysmally poor.
- method of loci
- indigenous cultures
- mnemonic devices
- education reform
- medical education
- spaced repetition
- cultural appropriation
- cultural safety
- memory research
- Dec 2020
U of Vermont faculty members pledge to fight planned cuts to liberal arts. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/12/07/u-vermont-faculty-members-pledge-fight-planned-cuts-liberal-arts
- Sep 2020
Mance, H. (2020, September 18). The future of the university in the age of Covid. https://www.ft.com/content/9514643d-1433-408c-8464-cb4c0e09c822