Helping Your Memory *

David A. Gershaw, Ph.D.

Did you ever forget to keep a commitment? I have. Even though we might not want to forget our commitments, we sometimes do. As we get older, our memory slips even more. Take the joke about the elderly couple. The husband told his wife that he wanted pancakes for breakfast. He asked her to write his request down, so she wouldn't forget. She said she would have no problem remembering his order. About 15 minutes later, she comes to the table with bacon and eggs. With a smug look on his face, the husband declared, "I knew you would forget! Where's the toast?" What can we do to remember better?

A particular problem for me is remembering people's names. As a teacher, I had to deal with 150-250 new names each semester. Remembering names indicates to students that they are distinct, worthwhile individuals, so I try to remember their names. Here are some suggestions that help me. I hope they help you too.

Even though these hints will help, they will never guarantee a perfect memory. So if you still can't remember, don't get upset, just laugh it off and keep trying. A joke about my last hint can clarify how things can go wrong. In remembering Mr. Kelly's name, a student linked it with his big belly "belly-Kelly." Several days later, upon seeing Mr. Kelly again, the student gave the confident greeting, "Hello, Mr. Blomach, " ("stomach-Blomach").

* Adapted from Diane Papalia and Wendkos Olds' Psychology, McGraw-Hill, 1988, page 223.

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