Linking and Association
Ever wonder how it’s easier for a high school kid back in the 90s and early 2000s to memorize species of Pokemon (all 151 of generation I and additional 100 of generation II), including type, attacks, and weight and height but can never seem to memorize 118 elements even on just name alone? Well, it’s exactly because Pokemon have extra attributes like types, attacks, height and weight, and personalities that make ‘em easier to catch (mentally)!
Linking and association is the ability of the brain to retain information through linking. Pokemon is easier to memorize because your brain associates a certain color to a certain element to a certain Pokemon. Most blue Pokemon are water types but you’d still know that a Nidoqueen is a ground-poison type—Nidoqueen and Nidokings are unique because they are the only species that have separate genders. The elements in the periodic table do not have those attributes, at least not in themselves. Take boron for example. I’ve always thought that boron was a gas but have retained the knowledge that there is such an element as boron and that boron is a metalloid element because boron sounds like a derogatory name you’d call someone who ever thought that boron was a gas. What a boron, right?
Let’s take two lists. One will consist of gravel, paper weight, Koolaid, tissue paper, and a Pablo Neruda book while the other will contain a leash, a walking chain, dog food, and chew toy. Which of the two lists will you probably remember better?
Chunking involve grouping information by relate-ability. Build relationships among items and group them together like grouping and memorizing water Pokemon together. It’s easier than grouping them, say, by size although you can also do that. Chunking is precisely why something as random as a phone number can still be retained in your long term memory.
Awit, Tugma at Sukat
In studying Filipino and the native origins of its poetry, I’ve learned how the method of the native poems oral tradition survived until today. The method is summed up in three words: Awit, Tugma, Sukat (Song, Rhyme, Meter).
How our ancestors used to relay long information (epics that can go on for days even) is that they make it into a song that has a specific number of syllables and rhymes at every rhyme. Because you know there something wrong with the information if it deviates from the meter scheme (number of syllables) or if the end of a line does not rhyme.
Apply this to how you study. Turn the elements into song the way you memorized the colors of the rainbow with the ROY-G-BIV song. Putting a meter on your memorization helps especially if you need to memorize something to the word.
Probably the best method of learning and comprehending information is to teach it. Teaching helps you to further solidify the knowledge you already have, clarify information that you cannot fully comprehend, and synthesize materials so that a body of knowledge melds into one comprehensive blob that both you (because you can’t teach what you can’t understand) and your “student” can use.