Thursday, April 10, 2014

Memory Masters!


As of today, we have THREE Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Memory Masters in the house!

Levi and Luke both completed their director proofs for the second year in a row, and I have now finished all 3 cycles. Whew!!

What is a CC Memory Master? A student recites for his or her tutor every piece of information memorized in a cycle (24 weeks work of information) for all subjects (History Timeline, U.S. Presidents, History, Geography, Science, Latin, English Grammar, and Math) with 100% mastery all in one sitting. (This happens after multiple practice “proofs.”) This recitation can take anywhere from 1-2+ hours. A one-hour recitation is speed-mode! After completing a tutor “proof,” a student is spot-checked in all subjects by the CC director (around 20 minutes). If a student is able to complete the director proof with 100% mastery, he or she becomes a Memory Master.

What did we memorize in Cycle 2?

  • 161 events and people in a chronological timeline (from ancient history to the present)
  • 24 world history sentences (from 800 AD to the present)
  • 44 U.S. presidents in chronological order
  • More than 100 locations and geographic features in Europe, Asia, Central America, and Southern Africa
  • 24 science facts/lists (including biomes, planets, Newton’s laws of motion, and the laws of thermodynamics)
  • Latin verb endings (six tenses) of the first conjugation
  • English grammar facts (including pronoun lists and parts of speech definitions)
  • Multiplication tables up to 15x15, common squares and cubes, unit conversions, basic geometry formulas, and math laws

Years ago—it seems like yesterday—I received our first Foundations Guide in the mail. I remember thinking, alternately, there is no way we can memorize all this information and I cannot wait until we’ve memorized all this information!! Here we are. Four years later. My boys have been introduced to all three cycles of memory work, and mastered much of it. I’ve mastered and tested each and every piece of memory work in the Foundations Guide. And I can personally attest—it’s possible.

Why memorize?

“No matter what your children’s strengths and weaknesses are, or their likes and dislikes, or their gifts and talents—their brains want to gather, sort, and store, and retrieve information.” (The Core, page 52)

“It is not surprising that, for the Greek mind, the Muses—of epic, history, astronomy, music, dance, tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, and sacred poetry—should be daughters of Memory.” (Anthony Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, page 9)

“One simple and immutable fact about the human brain is that you can’t get something out of it that isn’t there to start with. Supernatural inspiration notwithstanding, human beings in general—and children in particular—really can’t produce... thoughts or concepts that they haven’t first experienced and stored. In other words, we cannot think a thought we don’t have to begin with. Even the most unique, creative, and extraordinary ideas can only exist as a combination and permutation of previously learned bits of information.” ~Andrew Pudewa, 1 Myth, 2 Truths


“There are times when memorization is out of favor in education. Some might say that “rote memorization” is not appropriate as a teaching strategy. “Rote memorization,” however, is loaded language, biased against the discipline and effort required to learn things permanently. There is nothing wrong with challenge. We must remember that the alternative to remembering is forgetting, and when we teach something as important as grammar, that will be needed for one’s entire life, the ban on memorization makes little sense. There are areas of knowledge that should be memorized, and in the past, there was a better term for it: to learn by heart.” ~Michael Clay Thompson

“But more than that, we would desire to bring children into the garden of created being, and thought, and expression. Caldecott reminds us that for the medieval schoolmen, as for Plato, education was essentially musical, an education in the cosmos or lovely order that surrounds us and bears us up. Thus when we teach our youngest children by means of rhymes and songs, we do so not merely because rhymes and songs are actually effective mnemonic devices. We do so because we wish to form their souls by memory: we wish to bring them up as rememberers, as persons, born, as Caldecott points out, in certain localities, among certain people, who bear a certain history, and who claim our love and loyalty.” (Anthony Esolen, author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, in the Foreword from Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education by Stratford Caldecott)

In addition to the benefits of stored information, the process of testing for Memory Master develops work ethic, the ability to work toward a goal, perseverance, and a willingness to do hard things.

But do we consider memorization the be-all and end-all?

No. This is just the beginning.

Next comes the questions…

Congratulations to all our fellow Memory Masters!


Kate said...

Congrats to you and your boys! I'm beginning testing next week (our campus is a bit behind because of all the snow days we've had in Michigan), and it's been fascinating to put myself in the place of the kids. It's a lot of hard(but good)work.

Christa said...

Congratulations to you all! We have one full Memory Master in our house, and one who learned more than half the information. (He's barely 8. All was a little much, though I think he could have done it if we had been planning on him doing it all year because I would have reviewed more with him as we went.) I haven't tested, but after weeks of review and proofing, I bet I could do it. Perhaps I should have my Memory Master proof me.

Heidi said...

Best wishes for your testing, Kate!

Christa~ I had my 7 year old proof me using the flash cards. He was very enthusiastic. :) After reviewing and practicing with a child who completes MM, many moms could test as well! It's a huge amount of work to be the parent of a MM!

The Vosslers said...

Yay! Great work! I've thought of doing it myself, since I've memorized it every year as a tutor and mom, but I just keep not doing it.
This is the first year I've had any kids interested in MM. I have two who just finished their parent proofs this week (we're a couple weeks behind down here in Bend). This all makes me feel much better because the emphasis on "ready recall" and "fluid" makes me nervous. The only kids I've ever tutor-proofed always finished the ENTIRE cycle in 40 minutes, so my own kids and their slower recall had me wondering if they were truly ready ... but I think they are!

Sander said...

I just stumbled across your blog when I was in pursuit of Toby Sumpter's quote about the purpose of education for a CC info MTG I conducted tonight. I wish I had seen this particular post before my leading a workshop about memorization at our state himeschool convention this past weekend. You have some great quotes here!