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Journey Method of Memorization

How I used the Journey Method (also called the Loci method) to memorize the names of the Presidents
When Barack Obama was sworn in as president he became the 44th president of the United States. I have tried several times to memorize the names, and order of all the presidents of the United States. I would print the list of all of the presidents, start down the list, but would quickly become overwhelmed with all of the names and quit. After reading about the journey method of memorizing I wanted to try an experiment and see if I could learn all of the names using this method. Here is a quick review of my experiment and what happened.

The first item of business was to print out a list of all of the presidents. No problem, task completed in two minutes.

Next, I needed to come up with a journey or route. I run almost every day so I picked a favorite running route. I crudely drew the route and tried to come up with 44 landmarks, or locations. I soon discovered that 44 landmarks were just too many locations and my route was just too long. I have always had success with chunking so I decided to chunk the list into groups of 10 and create four different routes. This was much more manageable and made the route much easier to remember. I then drew out the route and wrote the presidents names at the landmarks found on the route. 

The next part was a little tricky. My knowledge of the life and times of the early presidents is limited; therefore, I had to be creative in associating the president with the landmark. At first I had no idea how to relate them, but after brainstorming for five to ten minutes I slowly started to create some creative methods for associating the president’s name with the landmarks. For instance, for James Adams the second president, I imagined my son Adam at the second landmark. For Thomas Jefferson I imagined 100 dollar bills at the second landmark. I continued this for the first ten presidents. This took about 15 minutes but amazingly I pretty much had the first ten presidents memorized after going through my route one or two times in my head. I was encouraged.

I repeated this for the next four sets of ten presidents. The last 15 presidents were the easiest to associate with landmarks because I actually knew something about their presidency and this made it much easier to associate them with a landmark. Each set of 10 took around 20-25 minutes to associate with a landmark, and around an hour total. 

I was a little amazed at how easy I could remember the names as I mentally went on my journey if I created good associations of the president’s name and the landmark. It took some creativity to create a good association, but it wasn’t impossible.
By the time I got to my third set of ten I was much better at creating these associations and it actually became pretty fun. Like anything you memorize, I will still need to review my routes and presidents several times if I wish to move all 44 president’s names into long term memory. 


Improves recall of lists 
I found it more enjoyable then just staring at a list and repeating the names.
Increases recall of lists because you have to draw a map, write down the names, and    then make associations.

Fair amount of prep time drawing the route and creating associations
I found with names it was difficult to make an association to a landmark
You need to have a memorized route to make it work
Can be time consuming

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