Ideas for Standard Memory Goals (in Education)

Memory competitions involve memorizing just a few things:

  • decimal numbers
  • binary numbers
  • playing cards
  • historic dates
  • poetry (created specifically for the event)
  • names and faces
  • random words
  • a specific kind of abstract image (from a relatively small set of shapes and patterns)

The Speed Memory competitions also have a few other events:

The creation of certain memory events has led to the development of incredible techniques for memorizing specific things like decimal and binary numbers.

There are obviously many more things in the world that could be memorized.

For example, there is no competition event for something like facts about countries in the world (leaders, population, area, history, etc.).  It wouldn’t make sense to have a competition event for something where facts could be memorized before the event. But I am thinking that if certain topics of knowledge were defined as standard memorization goals, it would encourage people to develop and share new techniques to memorize specific sets of information.

If a person wants to study literature, there is a specific canon of texts that one could work through.  With memory, the only standardized memory goals that I can think of are the competition events, memorization of religious books, and the memorization of pi.

I’m thinking of something like a sort of “canon of memorization” that people could work towards beyond just memorizing abstract data for competitions.  Many people working on the same specific goals could develop new techniques for memorizing defined sets of useful knowledge.

Examples of new sets of knowledge that could be defined as standard memorization goals:

  • world data (countries, governments, leaders, population, basic history)
  • human anatomy (bones, muscles, etc.)
  • vocabulary (e.g., the most common words in a language)
  • historic events of specific countries
  • topics in natural history (birds, plants, etc.)
  • topics in psychology
  • topics in philosophy
  • topics in chemistry
  • poetry (classics, as opposed to poetry created just for a memory competition)
  • etc.


Good places to initially find summaries of information could be SparkCharts, flashcards, textbooks, or other similar basic introductions to various topics.

Simply memorizing facts isn’t an end, but I think that systematically memorizing a lot of facts around a subject creates a kind of mental scaffolding that one can fill in with more detailed information later.

It seems to me like the creation of common memory goals outside of competitions could encourage large groups of people to work together on memorization. It could also be useful for spreading memory techniques in schools, as students would have specific goals to work towards.

Do you think that defining new memorization goals could spur the development of new memorization techniques?

(In the meantime, I started brainstorming some ideas about memorization goals for education in the Wiki.)



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