Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: Moonwalking with Einstein

Description from Amazon

Foer's unlikely journey from chronically forgetful science journalist to U.S. Memory Champion frames a revelatory exploration of the vast, hidden impact of memory on every aspect of our lives.

On average, people squander forty days annually compensating for things they've forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people. But after a year of memory training, he found himself in the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we too often forget: In every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.

Moonwalking with Einstein draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human remembering. Under the tutelage of top "mental athletes," he learns ancient techniques once employed by Cicero to memorize his speeches and by Medieval scholars to memorize entire books. Using methods that have been largely forgotten, Foer discovers that we can all dramatically improve our memories.

Immersing himself obsessively in a quirky subculture of competitive memorizers, Foer learns to apply techniques that call on imagination as much as determination-showing that memorization can be anything but rote. From the PAO system, which converts numbers into lurid images, to the memory palace, in which memories are stored in the rooms of imaginary structures, Foer's experience shows that the World Memory Championships are less a test of memory than of perseverance and creativity.

Foer takes his inquiry well beyond the arena of mental athletes-across the country and deep into his own mind. In San Diego, he meets an affable old man with one of the most severe case of amnesia on record, where he learns that memory is at once more elusive and more reliable than we might think. In Salt Lake City, he swaps secrets with a savant who claims to have memorized more than nine thousand books. At a high school in the South Bronx, he finds a history teacher using twenty- five-hundred-year-old memory techniques to give his students an edge in the state Regents exam.

At a time when electronic devices have all but rendered our individual memories obsolete, Foer's bid to resurrect the forgotten art of remembering becomes an urgent quest. Moonwalking with Einstein brings Joshua Foer to the apex of the U.S. Memory Championship and readers to a profound appreciation of a gift we all possess but that too often slips our minds.

My Thoughts

I loved reading this book. I found this book motivating myself to actually learn how to use my memory better. I am determined to memorize a deck of cards as a trick for my classroom and teach my students how to use memory(I need to learn how to first!).

I found his journey very interesting. What I found so engaging was the whole premise that you don't have to have a gift or special skill through me for a loop. The author was able to actually be a top notch memory master and he is just as normal as the rest of us. The key to it is like anything else in life and that you have to train and prepare and practice.

There were some parts that I did skim through. I was not that interested in the historical studies about brain and memory studies. I just wanted to know more about his journey and the tools and tricks he used to prepare.

There are some references to education and how we(teachers) don't use memory properly. I would like to study and learn more to help my students. Reading this book from a teacher perspective I really want to take some of these skills and strategies mentioned in the book and apply them as a study set for my students during homeroom.

I really liked a quote from the book that stated, "Our biggest failing may be that we forget how rarely we forget." This quote just struck me as an important idea.

I was very interested in the notion that photographic memory is a myth. This goes against everything I have ever heard or read. This idea I found to be very fascinating.

I am curious to read more on Tony Buzan and learning about his techniques. The book addresses whether or not he has great ideas or if he is just trying to make money, but I would assume that anyone can take away something useful from all of his materials.

This book if even not what I had intended to get out of the book is to learn some new brain strategies and skills and prove to students just how powerful their brains really are. Now it is time to apply some of the ideas mentioned in this book and make it happen.

Come on deck of cards let us go down memory lane!
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