(Re)Learning Old Skills

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Kol Drake created the topic: (Re)Learning Old Skills

Let's take the 'WayBack machine' to a time even older then me... ya, REALLY old!

Once upon a time, folks would learn, retain and recall tons of facts (not unlike those Jeopardy contestants) and hold 12 digit numbers in their heads for total recall. As writing improved and technology 'replaced' memory, folks have let those abilities wane. Heck, even Plato recorded Socrates as worrying about what would happen to memorization with this new technology called "the book."

It is something folks today are looking at -- as noted in this article over at Scientific American

>> Is the Internet Replacing Our Ability to Remember <<

And if our gadgets were to fail due to a planet-wide electromagnetic pulse tomorrow, we would still be all right. People may rely on their mobile phones to remember friends' and family members' phone numbers, for example, but the part of the brain responsible for such memorization has not been atrophied, she says. "It's not like we've lost the ability to do it."


Still, it is of note that we do place more reliance on our devices then using those innate abilities our glob of jelly (the amazing brain) can really DO.

IF the 'Big One' ever happened or the ultimate asteroid came a-callin' or... whatever event happens to mess up the status quo, it seems it would be nice to 'know' how to survive the loss of all those goodies. Of course, there are the survival books, etc. Not sure anyone would plan to backpack a library as they wandered the 'new' countryside but... maybe there is ONE book that covers it all.

Stars, sun, horizon, echoes, birds, etc... it all 'speaks' to us as we traverse the land we walk upon...
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Jax replied the topic: Re:(Re)Learning Old Skills

Memorization does nothing for understanding, and the understanding is what matters. That's why I almost never had to memorize in college or grad school. :-)


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Kol Drake replied the topic: Re:(Re)Learning Old Skills

True but, it is more then just memorization being replaced by technology I was getting at...

Figure, in school, the degree to which students grasp a concept can be reliably inferred only when they can somehow apply the concept in an authentic context. In other words, students cannot reasonably claim to understand what they cannot demonstrate. No different than folks who come here to the IJRS and read every thread, post and article. Reading is not enough.

No one can become a world-class chef simply by attending lectures, however well delivered. At some point, the student chef must get into the kitchen and cook something. This isn't news, really. Back in 270 B.C., Sophocles said, "We learn by doing. That is the thing. For though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try."

As for what I was trying to convey -- 'way back when', folks DID use memorization for practical matters. Far enough back, folks memorized and recalled 10-12 digit numbers of all their neighbors and friends' telephone numbers before widely distributed phone books or directory assistance. Many 'land navigators' explored wilderness but memorized landmarks to take repeated trips along the desolation of the southwest and deserts to 'get' to waterholes and safe spots heading to the great Western frontier.

They didn't have reliable maps nor Google or Bing to refer to. It was memorizing the landmarks; the day to day 'things around them' and being able to pull it back up as needed. While handy, most folks have 'lost' the skill of memorizing, retaining and recalling any large sequences or being able to easily reproduce such large scale (with all the minutia involved) travels sans maps, compasses, GPS, etc. Heck, most folks can not navigate from one end of town to the other without outside help. (thinking Philadelphia or New York City... not small town USA)

Memorizing can save your life in the wilderness. Say you are out in the woods/wilderness and need food. There is that old rule of thumb that you should follow animals around and eat what they eat, but that is not a foolproof method. And most folks do not memorize an entire book of all the plants and berries available in their locale. So, in order to find if a plant is edible, you need to test it. You can follow the "Universal Edibility Test", which requires you to place a small piece of plant against your lip, then your tongue, and finally in your whole mouth. Unfortunately, you have to wait for eight hours before you know if the plants safe to eat and it's still possible a plant can poison you.

If you're more of a berry fan, you can follow a simple mnemonic to remember which berries are edible:

White and yellow, kill a fellow. Purple and blue, good for you. Red… could be good, could be dead.

Not quite "A stitch in time saves nine" but, the same idea holds. Using mnemonics (memorizing such ditties) helps recall the information and can save a life... or sew up a shirt.
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Jax replied the topic: Re:(Re)Learning Old Skills

I think a lot of those skills are lost not because of inability to memorize, but because we simply aren't using any of them very often. We remember what we use. I could identify plants and trees more easily growing up because I was around them. Now, I live in cities. I have no need to know what trees or plants are what, so I forget. With the demand on my brain coming primarily through work and Jedi stuff, that other information is filed away, deep in the archives. lol But, once I start hiking, then it becomes more important to identify plants, both edible and toxic. Then I'll make the effort to become familiar with them, and have a book to aid identification. Most people don't know the survival 'stuff' because they have no need for it.

I'm not disagreeing with you though. I use gps, but then I also try to learn the path if it's somewhere I'm going multiple times, or if it's to give me a layout of the area. Being in a new city and state I get plenty of opportunity to do this. I'm slowly building my mental map. Sometimes I pull up google maps just to get more familiar, especially since roads go all over the place here. I recognize the value in knowing my way around without gps. I think it's a good idea for Jedi to improve their ability to navigate without electronics. It's a useful skill. Besides, it impresses people these days, since so many are dependent upon gps. :-D
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Johannes (Yoshio) replied the topic: Re:(Re)Learning Old Skills

Nice topic and an interesting one as well. As you might have get from my PTD, I had to somewhat swap my working place which means I ended up on a “new” PC whereat nothing is preset. Therefore I needed to recall everything myself. What to find where, which surnames my colleagues have to get their phone number from the phonebook, e-mail addresses of friends not stored and so on. Not an easy task but doable.
What Kol Drake wrote about the 12 digit numbers have made me think about that I often even have problems to recall my own number, not even thinking about recalling others. But in the past I knew, at least those, there is what Jax mentioned, of whom are close to me. Maybe simply because I had a reason and need for doing so.
But on the other hand, things you once have learned will likely never full “disappear”. So, train your brain and make use of it and take things as a challenge, especially when circumstances are safe, to get things done yourself without any or as little as absolutely necessary assistant from technical devices.

And Kol Drake, many thanks for the proverb about the berries, I had read it the first time!

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Memnoich replied the topic: (Re)Learning Old Skills

Ahh, but Jax, I bet you can recite your SSN without even thinking about it. I know people are amazed that I can remember my bank account numbers, and several other things off of the top of my head. I agree with both Kol and Jax, We have Stopped using some of the skill s we used to, but Like Jax said, for most of us, it's because we no longer need to memorize someones phone number, so we focus on those things we do need to keep track of. For me, most of my memory is used up with my work, but I do have my mental maps, I can still get around the towns I once lived in through the military. The biggest thing is like it was said before, by both Kol and Jax, the hands on stuff. I'm learning how to get to my sisters place because before I always rode with my parents to go visit. Now that I'm visiting on my own, I'm having to learn my way around Craig Colorado.

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Jax replied the topic: (Re)Learning Old Skills

Sure, I suspect all newer military folks know their ssn since we wrote it a billion times. ;-) And I also know my most used bank account numbers and such because I need to. I think we're redefining what we need to know now. There will be times we drop the ball, but we're also leaving more space for other information in our brains. This is just the transition period which is always an awkward experience.
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