Samuel Bower Sinclair.

Introductory educational psychology, a book for teachers in training online

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Can you remember anything which you have not at some
previous time learned or experienced? Give examples.

The original experience of getting the idea into the mind
is usually called Reception. We can remember an act of
Perception, Memory, Imagination, Thought, etc. The orig-
inal receptive experience, which is the first and fundamental
condition of a memory act, is not properly included in the
memory act which, strictly speaking, begins after the Recep-
tion is completed.

What is the second condition?

Take an example of some building, e.g., a church, which
you saw several years ago, and have not seen since, and the
appearance of which you can now recall.

Have you remembered this building ever since the time
when you first saw it?

Has the idea been in consciousness all the intervening
, time ?

Has the nervous system preserved a trace of the original
experience ?

What name do you give that power by which the original
impression is retained?

What is the third condition?

During the period of retention you were not conscious of
the idea at all. You now remember the church as you saw
it. Why does this remembered idea arise in consciousness
on this occasion?

Give other ways in which ideas of past experience are
called into consciousness. The representation of an idea in
this way is called Reproduction.

What is the next condition?

86 Introductory Educational Psychology

Do you sometimes see a person's face without knowing
the person and yet with a vague feeling of familiarity, and
after a brief interval find the knowledge come to you that the
person is one whom you had previously known. The act of
becoming conscious that you have at some previous time
had the presentation which is now represented in conscious-
ness is called Recognition, and the act of referring the repre-
sentation to a definite time in the past is called Localization.

Reception is thus the original experience forming the
basis of, but not included in, the memory act. Retention is
the mental aspect of a modified brain structure which gives
the "Permanent Possibility" of a revival of this experience.
Reproduction is the actual revival of it in consciousness.
Recognition is the knowledge that it is a repetition of a pre-
vious experience. Localization is the act of assigning it to
the time of the original presentation. The term Recollection
is used to include Reproduction, Recognition and Localization.

In a number of examples, point out the periods of Recep-
tion, Retention, Reproduction, Recognition and Localization.

Give instances of the Recall of circumstances supposed to
have been forgotten. Is it possible that Reproduction may
occur without Recognition? Might this be the true explana-
tion of unconscious plagiarism ? Do you often seem to recog-
nize a thing as familiar, when in reality you are having a new
experience? Is this a possible explanation of Plato's pre-
existent state and of Wordsworth's lines:

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness," etc. ?

Memory 87


Consider what our mental life would be without the power
of memory:

1. Intellectually.- — Could we form general notions or

classify objects? Could we then have logical
thought? Would imagination be possible if we
had no memory of the materials which it uses?
Could we even have perception, that is, could we
know an object as such if we remembered none
of our previous experiences by which to interpret
presented data?

2. Emotionally. — Would the emotions be possible in

any degree? Should we have any grounds for
love or hate? Could we sympathize if we had no
recollection of our own experiences? Would
aesthetic enjoyment be within our power?

3. Volitionally. — Without memory, could we learn to

perform any manual operation? Would moral
actions be possible? Could we have motives as
basis for choice and conduct?

On the other hand, what would be the disadvantages of
not being able to forget anything?

Memory Values of Different Senses. — Compare the vivid-
ness of memory in Sight and Touch by the following experi-

Look at a straight line (nine inches in length) previously
drawn on a blackboard. Erase it and draw another of equal
length in the same direction. Now, with eyes closed, run
your finger along the edge of a ruler nine inches long. Indi-
cate what you consider to be an equal length on a longer ruler
by drawing your finger along its edge.

Which has furnished the more accurate judgment, Sight

88 Introductory Educational Psychology

or Touch ? Perform other experiments to prove that memory
is most vivid in sight and hearing.

If anything is properly learned and is repeated often
enough, and the mind and body are healthy, can it always
be recalled?

Verbal and Rational Memory. — A pupil learned the pro-
ductions of the United States by rote, first the productions of
one State, then of another by a sheer effort of memory. In
what ways would the study of the relation of effects to causes
have led him to anticipate the productions? For example,
to what extent would the knowledge of the relief of a State, its
climate and soil, the productions of the adjoining States, etc.,
have enabled him to conclude what the productions would
be? In which of these two methods would the powers of
thought have been more fully exercised?

One student learns a proposition in Geometry verbatim,
without understanding the proof. Another learns the proof
but does not remember the exact words. What name is given
to that method of memory which consists simply in memor-
izing words ? Give other examples of verbal memory. What
name is given to that kind of memory in which the reasoning
or fact-producing principles are remembered, and the exact
words unheeded? Give other examples of rational memory.
Which method is usually better in learning Mathematics?
Why? Point out the evil results of rote memory, that
is, of memorizing words without paying attention to the mean-
ing of what is learned.

"Verbal memory may be accompanied by rational."
Give examples. "Facts in history and beautiful selections
in literature should be memorized in the exact words of the
book." Defend this statement and make a list of subjects
which should be thus memorized. Why is it important that,
in such verbal work, the meaning should at the same time
be kept in view?

Memory 89


What do you mean by the term "A Good Memory"?
Criticize the following as Memory Types:

(a) The learner makes no difference in the values of
facts. There is no perspective, all parts of the
subject studied are equally prominent. In His-
tory, for example, he is as likely to remember the
color of the horse on which a king rode to battle
as he is to remember the most important event
of the king's reign.

(b) He remembers the exact words of the book, e.g.,

he can repeat page after page of the text-book in
Geometry, but cannot reproduce the thought in
his own words.

(c) He can learn nothing verbatim, e.g., he finds it

impossible to memorize a beautiful selection of

(d) He cannot forget disagreeable, debasing or useless

things, e.g., he constantly broods over some failure
in life, his mind is filled with impure associations,
or occupied with trivial commonplaces.

(e) He tries to remember everything, e.g., he blames

himself for not remembering the ways in which
people are dressed, the number of panes in the
windows of houses which he has seen, etc.

(/) He says he has a poor memory and does not try to
remember anything at all difficult, but relies on
his note-book for everything.

(g) He has formed a habit of remembering by mne-
monics, and is unable to remember simple facts
without establishing an elaborate series of arti-
ficial associations.

90 Introductory Educational Psychology

(h) He learns quickly, but forgets just as quickly and

requires to review very often.
(i) He has a well-stored mind but is unable to call up

the required thing at the proper time.
(J) His representation is vague, inaccurate, and lack-
ing in important details.
Point out ways in which the teacher can aid in changing
such habits as the foregoing to more satisfactory ones. Give
an example of an occupation where it would be an advantage
to learn quickly and also to forget quickly, and of another in
which speed of acquisition is not important.

If a person has a good memory for poetry, does it follow
that he will have a good memory for prose?
Consider the following:

There is no such thing as a faculty of memory independ-
ent of the thing to be remembered. What the teacher can do
is to aid in developing a habit of learning, retaining, and re-
calling in the best way. The child should form a habit of
remembering only those things which are worth remembering
and of forgetting others. He should be trained to learn
rapidly, to retain for a long time without repetition, and to
reproduce accurately and quickly.

Strong retentive power in one direction does not always
mean a similar power in other directions. The possession
of an abnormal memory, e.g., the power to reproduce long
lists of words is not desirable, there should be harmonious


Visual Memory Span Test. — Prepare ten series of 12
consonants each, avoiding previous associations in preparing
the sequence, e.g.:

1st series, x, b, s, f, t, h, r, m, g, 1, c, q.

Memory 91

2nd series, v, k, z, p, g, n, d, m, s, I, f, b.

3rd v, s, n, f, c, t, r, p, 1, g, b, x.

4th " d, b, i, h, g, k, p, n, 1, t, s, x.

5th " r, v, h, k, d, c, s, v, r, k, m, g.

6th d, s, p, m, g, 1, b, f, q, s, b, n.

7th " y, 1, t, r, q, x, m, g, d, k, f, b.

8th " b, x, c, t, r, f, k, p, 1, g, d, 1.

9th " g, c, f, b, 1, k, m, r, c, p, q, d.

10th " k, g, d, m, b, p, h, s, t, r, 1, c.

Have the ten series written on a blackboard or tablet
covered with a curtain which can be raised when required.
Have a student who has not seen the series take a seat where
he can distinctly see the letters when the curtain is raised.
Tell the student that you will expose twelve letters to his
view for ten seconds and that you wish him to remember
and subsequently write down as many as possible of the let-
ters in proper sequence. Raise the curtain so as to expose
the lowest series. After ten seconds, lower the curtain and
have the student write the series as he remembers it. Raise
the curtain and have him mark the number that he has right,
marking one for a correct letter in its correct place and one-
half for a letter transposed. Erase lowest series and proceed
similarly with the next series, and so on. At the end of the
experiment have the student sum up his marks and find his
percentage of the maximum total (120 marks).

Perform a number of similar experiments with different
series on succeeding days, and deduce conclusions which will
be of service in memory training.

A. — Training Reception. — What is the result, if we try
to remember everything ?

Which is better, the ability to remember accurately a few
important facts, or the power to recall in a hazy, uncertain
way an immense number of indiscriminate and unimportant

92 Introductory Educational Psychology

details ? Why is it important that anything memorized should
be worth remembering? Give examples from Literature,
Natural Science and Mathematics.

There are certain conditions which, if observed in getting
anything into the mind, will enable us to remember it more
easily when we wish to recall it than if we had not observed
these conditions. Make a list of all such conditions which
you have found to be aids to memory.

What is the first experience of your infant life which you
remember? Why do you remember this experience and for-
get subsequent events? Deduce principles for memory train-
ing. "If in the process of learning, the facts are properly
apperceived, Memory will take care of itself." Explain the
meaning of this statement and give examples.

1. Attention. — Show that aids to attention are aids to

Give examples where you have forgotten:

(a) Because you were not interested in the subject.

(b) Because you did not concentrate your attention
vigorously for sufficient time.

(c) Because you did not understand what was to be


(d) Because you did not relate the new presentation to
former knowledge by bringing related facts into
the foreground of consciousness.

(e) Because you had not formed the habit of memorizing.
(J) Because your health was not good.

(g) Because you were over-fatigued.

(h) Because you did not receive the impressions through

the best avenues or sufficiently vividly.
(i) Because you did not concentrate attention upon the

greatest difficulty.

If a pupil spells the word "Island" "Hand," in what ways

Memory 93

could he be taught the correct form ? Why should the diffi-
cult part be especially emphasized ? Why would it be a good
device to write the word in a prominent place with the letter
"s" specially conspicuous?

Why would it be an advantage to the pupil to write it, to
spell it orally, to write it in the air with his fingers, to model
it in clay, etc.?

2. Association. — Give examples to show that all aids to
association are aids to Memory.

Aids to Association. — Point out aids to the formation of
Associations :

(a) Order. — Give examples to show that the order in
which things are originally learned is the order in
which they are apt to be recalled.

If there are fourteen prominent elements in an
original presentation, e.g., the sea, a sailboat, etc.,
and now only one of these ideas comes into con-
sciousness, e.g., that of a sailboat, is it as likely to
recall the others as if a larger number are re-
called? Why is this?

(b) Vividness. — From the list of associations which
you formed on page 47, select those which were
due to vividness of the original impression.

(c) Repetition. — In the list of associations formed on

page 47, note those which are due to frequent

(d) Recency.- — Other things being equal, which is the

more likely to be suggested, the association formed
recently or the one formed long ago, e.g., if you
have been equally interested in two books, one of
them a year ago, the other this morning, which
will probably be recalled now by the word book?
Give examples. Why is it wiser for the student

94 Introductory Educational Psychology

to spend the hour before a Geometry examination
in studying Geometry, than in studying History ?

(e) Attitude oj Mind. — A buttercup is held up before
a farmer, a botanist and a person who is from the
city for a holiday, what different associations are
apt to be called up in each case?

Give examples to show that the profession or calling in
life is apt to condition the associations which arise
in the mind ? When a person is despondent, does
it seem to him that people are unusually cold and
distant? Give examples to show that our emo-
tions have much to do with the associations formed.
Why is it important that in memorizing we learn
in the same order in which we wish to recall ?

(/) The Conscious Union of Contiguous Words. — In
successive associations we found that each mental
picture seemed to be associated with the preceding.
Endeavor to memorize the following list of words.
Begin with the first word, proceed to the second,
form an association between the first and second,
- then proceed to the third, and form an association
between the second and third, for the time being,
forgetting all about the first, then proceed to the
third and fourth, paying no attention to the first
and second, and so on. After all the words have
been gone over in this way, close the book and
write the list as accurately as you can: Telephone,
wood, forest, hunter, rifle, steel, rail, railway,
station, platform, crowd, picnic, children, danger,
dust, destination, dinner, rain, tree, conversation,
sunshine, departure, home.

Why do you remember this list of words more readily
than an ordinary list of the same number of
words ?

Memory 95

Why is an association such as that "wood" is found in
a "forest," a better association than that the words
"danger" and "dust" begin with "d"?
Mnemonics. — The method of remembering anything by
associating it with something else which we do not require
to remember, but which we easily remember and can easily
associate with it, is called Mnemonics. For example, in learn-
ing the names of the monarchs of England, some learn the

"First William the Norman, then William his son,
Henry, Stephen and Henry, then Richard and John,
Next Henry the third, Edwards one, two, three,
Then again after Richard three Henrys we see," etc.
In the foregoing example, to what extent are you aided
by the rhythm, by the fact that you know how many syllables
are still wanting in a line, and by the habit of learning poetry
and not prose ?

A student wishing to remember that the anterior spinal
nerves are motor, and the posterior nerves sensory, remem-
bers that "a" and "m," the initial letters of anterior and
motor, occur earlier in the alphabet than p and s.
Recall similar devices which you have used.
Why is a mnemonic association which you have made your-
self better for you than one suggested by someone else ?
Consider the following methods:

Take a list of unrelated words that it is necessary for you
to remember, e.g., the names of students in a class, streets in
a town, elements in Chemistry, etc. Associate the first word
with the second by some association connected with both and
serving as a suggestive link. In this way you will finally have
a list of successive associations similar to those in the list in
our experiment (telephone, wood, etc.) which you found it
easy to memorize. Now close the book and write your list
of streets, leaving out the mechanical associations.

96 Introductory Educational Psychology

Why do these associations aid you in remeihbering ? In
what way does the forming of these associations tend to con-
centrate attention upon the names of the streets and make
the impression vivid ? After a time you remember the names
of the streets when you have forgotten the artificial associa-
tions. Why is this?

Why is the use of mnemonics a dangerous device? What
would be the effect of trying to remember everything by
mnemonics? Why does an extensive use of such devices
weaken the memory? Those who have the most vigorous
memories do not resort to such expedients. If proper atten-
tion is paid to rational apperception, repetition and recollec-
tion, Memory as such will take care of itself without the adop-
tion of mnemonic devices.

If a student memorizes daily by a definite act of attention,
and increases the amount learned each day, he will soon
acquire power to memorize without difficulty.

B.— Training Retention.— Physical Health. — It is prob-
able that all physical action is accompanied by corresponding
nerve change, and that as the result of stimulation, response,
attention and repetition, nerve tissue takes on a retentive form.
A person, after receiving a severe blow on the head, forgot all
the events which occurred during the few hours immediately
before the accident and never remembered them again.

An uneducated servant, during a fever delirium, recited
passages of Latin and Greek which she had heard a gentle-
man read again and again in his study. She had never en-
deavored to learn them and did not know their meaning, and
when fully conscious, could not repeat them.

Give examples where the memory has been injured through
ill-health. Why is the health of the nervous system specially
important in the training of Retention ?

Memory 97

Repetition. — Which are remembered better in old age,
the prominent events of early life or the ordinary events of
middle life? Which are the more recent? Which have been
the oftener repeated ? What effect has repetition upon power
to remember? Give examples from your own experience.
Why is drill necessary in school work?

Do you learn more quickly and remember better, when
repeating, if you attend to the meaning, than if you simply
repeat, parrot fashion?

Why may it be said that there is no faculty of memory,
that the question, "How should we train Memory?" gives rise
to another question, "Memory of what?" What relation
does localization of brain function bear to this question ?

C. — Training Recollection. — Why is it true that if
anything is properly learned and repeated, and the mind and
body are in a healthy condition, the Recollection will usually
take care of itself?

In order to recall anything, why is it important that for
the time being we forget other things ?

Can we drive anything out of consciousness by simply
willing to do so ?

How can we drive undesired ideas out of consciousness?

With what should we endeavor to occupy consciousness in
trying to remember?

If in a certain Receptive experience there were forty prom-
inent simultaneous elements in consciousness, and we now
recall thirty-nine of these and cast them as nearly as possible
in their original relations, why is it likely that the fortieth
will come up quickly with them?

Try to remember the name of some person whose name
you have for the moment forgotten. Think of his personal
appearance, the color of his hair, his mental peculiarities,
where you last saw him, wbp was with him, what he said, etc.

98 Introductory Educational Psychology

Many people by practice can, by this method, recall almost
anything which they have ever firmly fixed in memory. Why
is such a method superior to ordinary mnemonics?

Why is it wise to trust the memory and make a determined
and continued effort to remember when we once resolve to
do so? Why are we likely to fail if we grow excited in the
process? Why does anxiety as to results tend to paralyze
the mental action of a student at examination? When you
have tried hard to remember a word and failed, have you,
after a few hours or days, noticed the fugitive word arise in
consciousness unbidden? Is it probable that in the original
experience there were so many elements engaging the atten-
tion that you failed to distinguish the one you sought?


Give examples of school-room applications and violations
of each of the following:

If proper methods of learning are followed, Memory, as
such, need not be emphasized to any great extent.

That which is learned should always be worth remem-

The teacher should aid the child in the selection of that
kind of knowledge which is of most value.

The Memory should not be overburdened.

The learner should form the habit of remembering differ-
ent kinds of experience — Auditory as well as Visual, Words
and Thoughts as well as Percepts, etc.

The recollection of a few essentials, accurately retained,
is more valuable than an uncertain memory of a mass of
unimportant details.'

In some cases material which has no meaning in itself
should be remembered, e.g., the spelling of words.

In some cases the exact words of the book should be re-

Memory 99

membered, in other cases a sequence of reasoning should be

Facts should be presented in logical and chronological

As a rule, it is better to learn in the order in which it is
intended to recall.

When learning, it is well to avoid coming in contact with
or attending to objectionable stimulus.

Difficult memory work should be taken at such times as
the nervous system functions at its best.

In very difficult cases it is well to receive the stimulus
through the sensory avenue of highest natural efficiency, but
individuals who are of weak visual, auditory, or motor power,
should remedy the defect by definite exercise.

Power to memorize in one subject of study does not neces-
sarily mean power to memorize in another subject.

In the case of a weak power of memory, for example, a
difficulty in remembering prose, the power can be strengthened
by setting to work systematically to memorize a small amount
each day and by increasing the amount.

In Reception the primary presentation should be properly

The attention should be focussed upon the greatest diffi-
culty and the subject should be clearly understood.

The entire attention should be directed upon the thing to
be learned. The impression should be clear and definite,
and the images should be such as will furnish effective instru-
ments in the reconstruction of future experience.

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Online LibrarySamuel Bower SinclairIntroductory educational psychology, a book for teachers in training → online text (page 7 of 13)