Memorization is an important part of the learning process. And for the Christian, putting scripture to memory should be a lifelong discipline. For most Christians, memorizing scripture is tedious and repetitive. This is because the art of memorization is not taught in most academic settings. However, there are ways to memorize information that are more natural than the cumbersome methods used by most Christians. Mnemonics opens the door to the world of scripture memorization.
Mnemonics is the art of using devices to aid in the memorization of information. “Thirty days hath September, April, June and November; All the rest have thirty-one.” This is an example of a mnemonic aid used to teach children the number of days in each month. “Every good boy does fine” is another mnemonic aid used to teach the notes on the lines of the treble clef. There are many types of mnemonic aids, but our focus is on mental image based mnemonics.
Mental image based mnemonics centers on 2 principles, imagination and association. The main idea is that our minds can more efficiently and effectively store and recall information when that information can be visualized. Using the power of imagination, words and concepts can be converted into mental images. And association allows us to connect those images together. For example, the Spanish word for rice is “arroz”. Arroz sounds like arrows, so a mental image of arrows flying into a bowl of rice will remind you that arroz means rice in Spanish. Now it gets a bit more complicated than this, but this is just a broad example of how image based mnemonics work.
Memory expert Jerry Lucas used mnemonics to memorize the entire New Testament. Yes, word for word memorization is possible with this system, but it takes some time to get to this point. The next article will cover some fundamental principles of mental image based mnemonics.