Learning at Work Day 2009 - Memory Improvement with Bardic Performances

Learning at Work Day 2009 took place on Thursday 14 May. I’ve done talks on Reiki for the last few years and this year it seemed time for a change. After moving over to performing new poems from memory in 2009, I had an idea to do a talk about memory improvement, using bardic performances for the demonstrations. The idea was accepted and I did two three-hour workshops on the day. I started by talking about myself and how the memory work had started and come back as a result of the Bard of Bath competition. Then it was into the performance of an 80-line poem selected by the audience - forwards and backwards. The test continued with everyone in the audience asking questions about all 160 verses of the new poems - number to verse and later, verse to number. This went well and everyone wanted to see how it was done. The first exercise was to learn a list of 10 items, without and then with training. This was part of the Minor System, that also included sequences, journeys and memory palaces. After the break it was a look at some fun common and not so common mnemonics and rhymes. Then it was into the Major System, converting numbers to words and back again, building an ever-expanding grid of memory pegs. We saw how this could be used to memorise a poem, as well as more complicated data like author information and entries from the periodic table. The audience was then invited to pick playing cards from an A4 pack and the sequence was memorised and recalled successfully. There was a brief look at some useful websites and use of Excel to aid memory training. Recommendations were made for three books by Tony Buzan, Derren Brown and Judy Parkinson. And a quote was shown on how Rawlett College students had used techniques from Tony and Derren to significantly improve their scores. It was a lot to take in on the day and I recommended everyone to start small to gain confidence and to allow the system to expand with them. Overall, a manic but enjoyable day. Thanks to Teresa Marsh for taking all the photos.

Montage of the complete event

Matthew talks about being a druid and bard

Casting the vote on which poem will be performed

Counting the votes. The superstition poem wins

Trying to make Word readable for the whole audience

"Today I got out of the wrong side of bed. Does that mean more bad moods ahead?"

"Walking under a ladder, more bad luck for me? Why is it so different to walking under a tree?"

Allowing the group to choose from 160 verses of poetry

Answering number to text questions

Converting between numbers and words

Getting down to the finer detail

Picking cards from the pack

Learning the sequence of the pack

Learning the sequence of the pack

Creating another distraction before recalling the order of the playing cards

The King of Diamonds was card 8 in the morning session

Bizarrely the Nine of Hearts was card 10 in both sessions

Recommended reading - Tony Buzan

Recommended reading - Derren Brown


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Page last updated: 14 May 2009