Home memorization staying strong, and the art of memorization

staying strong, and the art of memorization

by Shawni
I continually feel like I’m in a world that is getting easier and easier on kids.  And on adults too.  We take the path of least resistance over and over again because it’s there for the taking.  You don’t want to walk home from your friend’s house a couple blocks away?  That’s ok, someone will drive you.  You don’t want to go through the hassle of going to Home Depot to pick up that part for the broken toilet?  No worries, you can sit at your computer, order it on Amazon and have it delivered to you doorstep.  You don’t want to slice up your apples?  Never fear, you can buy them all pre-sliced and bagged for you at the store lickety-split.  I know what you’re thinking: that’s awesome in some ways.  And you’re right.  It is so nice and convenient.  All of it. But are we losing touch of working on things?  Together as a team or on our own?  Does all that ease cause us to lose touch in a way?
 

Maybe I should explain what I’m getting at, because of course there’s still all kinds of good work going on in the world.  But lately I’m getting tired.  So if my kids complain about doing something tough, or mope around, sometimes I make the cardinal sin of just doing it for them, or just to forget it all together.  It’s easier than the eye rolling or the effort it takes for me to put on a happy face and give them that sideways fist across the chest claiming, “come on, it’ll be so fun!”  Sometimes I just get tired of combating all that negativity.  Oh, you’re going to be gone for family dinner?  Ok, we’ll catch you next time.  No time to clean up after yourself, I’ll do it.  Blah, blah, blah.

 
Whoa, that was a little aside the point.  Maybe I’m more frustrated with all this mumbo jumbo than I realized!  Ha!  What I’m getting at here is that I’m trying to crack down on things I feel like these kids need to do to make them stronger.  Things that will make them find more beauty in life.  Things that will bring them happiness even if it’s a pain in the short term.  
 

So as I mentioned before in our “summer expectations,” one of the things I cracked down on was memorization.  I talked about how much I love memorization back HERE.  And there’s a Q & A about how we did memorization in our family growing up over HERE.  Oh, and we had a quick stint in poetry memorization back HERE that I loved…here’s my little tiny girls reciting one of the poems they memorized:
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We have quotes up on our “Wall” (back HERE) of many of the things we’ve memorized, both in my family growing up as well as this family Dave and I are growing:
 
Back in the spring my neighbor hosted a memorization night.  My girls were at first horrified that I was going to make them stand up in front of a crowd and recite something.  But as the night drew closer and they practiced up, you could sense the excitement.  They were actually eagerly anticipating their turns to stand up on that stage.
 

Lucy recited one of her favorite Articles of Faith she had been working on:

Claire practiced up on her Theodore Roosevelt “Man in the Arena” quote that we love so much and recited that:

And Grace was a little late to the game in the midst of all her senioritis business but luckily had Helaman 5:12 up her sleeve which she knew easily by heart from memorizing it every summer with my mom for Grammie Camp.  But of course it’s different when you’re doing it in front of people, and she did it fabulously:

I just have to include this video of Lu when she was trying to memorize that thing a couple years ago and now she has it down-pat and has referred to it over and over and over and over again since then:
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(I can’t thank my mom enough for making it so fun for all the grandkids to know that scripture, love you mom!)

And this video was categorized with that last one under “memorization” in my photo files so I may as well share it too…it’s of Claire when she memorized the first half of The Living Christ when we did home-school-English last year:
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Yes, that was literally only a little over a year ago, can you believe how much that girl has grown up in a year??  But let’s examine beyond that face that was so-darn-much-younger and check out that glow of confidence on that face??  See it?  Yep, because she worked hard on that thing.  But her “teacher”-who-happened-to-be-her-mother worked it into her lessons.

That glow that came from these girls from a job well done, being able to take something from the inside and spill it out beautifully got me thinking about how I want to up my game of what to expect from these kids.  Not just poetry but life in general.  They can do so much more than we expect sometimes!  And so can we.  (Poor Lucy and Claire…ha.  But don’t the last kids at home usually get the slacked-off parent??  I want to hold them to the same expectations I held their older brother and sisters.  I don’t want to forget to push just like I did on the older kids just because the majority of my children are gone.)  So we’re motivated among other things to up our memorizing game around here. We memorized some favorite quotes as well as a scripture I love this summer.  Then at the lake all these kids were inundated with memorizing “Grandfather’s Secrets” which made my heart swell up.
 
So, now we’re on to the new school year and I’m committed to keep that memorization up, for them and for me, as well as some other things I’ll write about soon.  I’m committed enough to throw it onto the blog to keep me accountable 🙂 I’m going to come back in a couple months to report, hold me to it!  Also, I’d love any advice on memorizing, and great quotes or poems that would be good to put up on our “memorization board.” 
 
And with that I’ll close this little rant…luckily I’m out of time 🙂  

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15 comments

Christina R. August 13, 2019 - 2:56 pm

I love how powerful literature can be, and memorization is such a great tool. I had to memorize the "Non, merci" monologue from Cyrano de Bergerac in high school more than 10 years ago and still know it by heart, and can remember pacing around my parents' house to get all those lines into my head.

Some poetry I would recommend:
Ozymandias (Percy Shelley)
I Never Saw a Moor… (Emily Dickinson)
Something Told the Wild Geese (Rachel Field)

And one great Canadian classic is The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service (though it's pretty long to memorize!). There is an amazing story about John McCain learning this poem as a POW and how reciting it in code to his cellmate helped him get through his time in captivity. (https://time.com/5219605/john-mccain-pow-poem/)

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Shawni August 14, 2019 - 7:30 pm

Thank you! So many good ideas!

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Netty August 13, 2019 - 3:39 pm

There's a great podcast I listen to called "The Art of Language" by Andrew Pudewa and Julie Walker. Many of the episodes revolve around the importance of memorization and the work of learning. Andrew Pudewa created a homeschool language arts company called Institute for Excellence in Writing. One of the curricula they sell is called Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. There are five levels of memorization, level one starting out with short, sometimes silly-funny poetry, gradually progressing to longer, more serious poetry and level five introducing long snippets of famous speeches and much longer, more serious poems. All of the poems and speeches are classic and many are well-known. The curriculum teaches a system of memorizing to make it possible to know by heart 100 poems and speeches if you choose to memorize every single one. 🙂 I don't know that I'm *that* ambitious nor do I feel it necessary to memorize that many poems and speeches, but just like memorizing the Articles of Faith or a favorite scripture, it sure sears some good words and phrases and thoughts into your brain that you can recall without much thinking. Anyway, thought I'd share. 🙂
P.S. I bought just the teacher's manual and student book, but you could even buy just one or the other and do the program just fine. 🙂
https://iew.com/shop/products/linguistic-development-through-poetry-memorization-teachers-manual-cds

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Shawni August 14, 2019 - 7:31 pm

I'll look into this. I wish I could find a great teacher to teach this stuff, I think my kids would listen better, ha! But maybe the teacher's manual would help 🙂

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Guest August 13, 2019 - 9:10 pm

I will second The Cremation of Sam McGee – I grew up in the Yukon, and Sam McGee (and all of Robert Service's poetry for that matter) was wrote in our brains from a young age. In grade 10 we had to recite 300 lines of poetry – and I loved the way RS sounded – so I recited 'The Cat with Wings' as part of my lines, my favourite bit being:

"And then the vision that I had; Of Tabbie soaring through the night,; Quick vanished, and I felt so sad; For that poor pussy’s piteous plight.; For though frustration has it stings,; Its mockeries in Hope’s despite,; The hell of hells is to have wings; Yet be denied the bliss of flight."

Interestingly the Cremation of Sam McGee is based on a true story of sorts, although the boat in question was not the Alice May on the 'marge of Lake Laberge,' but rather the Olive May on the Tagish River. (http://hougengroup.com/yukon-history/yukon-nuggets/the-man-who-cremated-sam-mcgee/)

A particular quote of mine is "It is not down on any map; true places never are." from Herman Melville.

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Shawni August 14, 2019 - 7:33 pm

Thank you!!
xoxo

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minteva August 14, 2019 - 2:45 am

I think being able to order things online or buy pre-sliced fruit is *very* different to letting your kids get away with rude or lazy behaviour. The former things help disabled people get the things they need or give them access to things they couldn't access otherwise. I imagine Lucy will probably use a lot of those kinds of resources in the future because they will make her life easier! Sure, she *could* do it the harder way, with a lot of struggle, but why do it that way when it's not necessary?

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Shawni August 14, 2019 - 7:27 pm

Yes that's the problem with blogs, sometimes what you're feeling comes out wrong, but of course I'm so happy for so many things that simplify and help us out so much in life. Just talking here in generalities.
xoxo

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Anne August 14, 2019 - 5:58 am

Oh I love this because memory is a big part of our family culture. I've seen my kids confess to reciting their memorized lines when they're doing something hard (running a long distance) or lonely. I also see them recalling poetry when they see something beautiful that reminds them of lines they've learned.

Some resources we've used and loved (in addition the snippets you've posted of what your parents had you memorize growing up!) include:

"How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare" by Ken Ludwig. He was on a great episode of the Read Aloud Revival podcast and we bought the book and memorized most of the 25 passages in there. My kids all adore Shakespeare now!

This method for organizing & reviewing memory work is incredibly simple and effective:
https://simplycharlottemason.com/timesavers/memorysys/ . We've used it for more than a decade now in two forms: One is the little index card box described, which now has hundreds of cards. The other is in binder form for the kids. We just use dividers and then have their memory work printed up in page protectors so you can move them around as they are mastered.

Some poems we especially love: Prayer by Eliza M Hickock, Equipment by Edgar A. Guest, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, and The Touch of the Master's Hand by Myra Brooks Welch

It's amazing what 10 minutes of fairly consistent effort a day can yield!

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Shawni August 14, 2019 - 7:29 pm

Oh I love these ideas! I've been wanting to throw in some Shakespeare ever since Lu and I read "The Wednesday Wars"…have you read that? There's some great Shakespeare appreciation in there! Thank you so much for sharing!

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Netty August 14, 2019 - 7:09 pm

I love the Read Aloud Revival Podcast! I forgot about that one. 🙂

And IEW's poetry program I mentioned basically uses the Charlotte Mason method of memorizing (without the card box). So many great resources out there!

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Shawni August 14, 2019 - 7:29 pm

Totally looking this up too. Thank you!

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Christine August 15, 2019 - 11:37 am

I'm inspired!

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Tiffany October 13, 2019 - 11:13 pm

I’d be interested in trying to host a memorization night sometime. Was everyone (any age?) just invited to share something they memorized? (Seems pretty straightforward but just wanted to see how this was organized)

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Shawni October 21, 2019 - 11:59 am

Yes, any age. Anyone who wanted to share stood up and recited what they had ready to go. Some were more prepared than others, some little kids just sang a song that helped them memorize a poem, whatever. But just such a great venue to encourage more memorization and also stage presence. So grateful for my amazing neighbor!

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