Introducing the Super Clever Advanced Learning Method(SCALM)

Here is a short presentation of the Super Clever Advanced Learning Method(SCALM).
By following a series of clear steps and simple rules for memorizing different types of information, the SCALM method brings a systematic approach to a task that seems difficult for all of us: memorizing hundreds of pages of horribly abstract ,unattractive and unrelated information.

I created this method after many years in which I had to learn a lot of abstract and highly diversified information. At one point, I asked myself the question: " How could I approach in a unitary way the memorization of any kind of information, whether it is a biology essay or a philosophy book? What are the universal steps of any learning process and how can I adapt them to any type of material that I have to learn?"

The answer came when I began to study and practice the memory techniques. I discovered that, by combining these techniques, not only did the learning process become faster, but at the same time the learned information remained much longer stored in my memory.

Over time, I became a proactive learner and I synthesized a series of steps that transformed my learning into a pleasant and extremely effective experience.

The essence of the method consists in the deconstruction, organization and then reconstruction of the material, so that it is brought into a memorable form for you. For this purpose, it contains 5 steps and “SCALM” is an acronym for these steps, which are: Structure-Chunk-Associate-Locate-Memorize.

1. The first step of the method is to Structure the information . This stage aims to create an overview of the material to be memorized, that will help us to organize the memorization process. In short, at this stage we create a general map of what we have to do.There are cases where the material is already organized by the author in the form of tables, charts, lists or tables of contents. We can use these as an overview of the information, but only if they are organized in a visual form. Unfortunately, these cases are quite rare, so we need a universal instrument that can be applied to any type of material. For this purpose,the SCALM technique often uses MIND MAPS, a very efficient tool used by millions of people around the world to organize their ideas and to think more creatively.

2. The second stage of the SCALM method is Chunking - a process by which the material is broken down into organized and meaningful pieces of information.

You have probably heard the saying that you eat an elephant one bite at a time and this is the principle on which any complex human activity is based. The same principle applies in learning.Basically, at this stage we break down the material into smaller pieces, which will be easier to associate and manipulate in our mind.

3. The next step is Association

This is the core of the mental process of memorization. Association is the central element of any memory technique and it means creating a mental connection between the abstract information you have to remember and a concrete image as a person, an object or an animal . This easy-to-memorize image will act as a trigger to bring the abstract concept to light, from the depths of your memory. It works like a shortcut that launches an application from your computer.

The chunks of information take a concrete shape and, at the end of this stage, we will have a list of simple and concrete pictures (like a horse,a lion or a king), which we will have to memorize in the next stage.

To transform the abstract concepts into memorable images, the SCALM method uses (and sometimes combines) several simple memory techniques:

  • Acronyms and The Sentence Method (for small lists- up to 7-8 items)

  • The Story Method (for longer lists)

  • The Sound-Alike Technique( for difficult words and names)

  • Rhymes and Jingles ( for audiory learners can be useful)

  • The Names Association Technique (for names)

  • The Major System (for numbers and dates)

Here are some simple examples on how to use these tools:

a) This biology list containing the 5 types of living structures: “ *Cells,Tissues,Organs,Organ Systems and Organisms,” * can be memorized with the Sentence Method: “Complicated Tests Obtain Obese Oranges”;

b) To memorize the atomic number of the chemical element Krypton (36), you can combine The Sound Alike Technique and The Major System. For Krypton, you can use the sound-alike “Kryptonite”, while 36, in the Major System, is M-Ch, or Mach. Here is the mnemonic image that you can use :“ Superman flying at Mach speed and searching for kryptonite”

c) To memorize this history text : “ Risings of the peasantry took place in various parts of Germany, notably in Swabia, Thuringia, the Rhine Provinces, and Saxony (1524).” , you can combine the Sentence Method( Swabia, Thuringia, the Rhine Provinces, and Saxony= “Sad Tiger Releases Snakes”) and the Major System( 1524 =TL and NR, which can become the words Towel and Nero -“Emperor Nero burning a towel.”)

Each mnemonic image of this type will be placed along a memory palace in the next stage.

4. The fourth stage is Localization , which is one of the most important aspects of an orderly memorization. You put all the concrete simple images from the previous step in a memory palace, along an imaginary journey that will become an orderly structure for memories.

Imagine you go to work and along your route you meet, in some well-defined places, the images you have to remember (for example, you might meet a lion in front of your house or an elephant in the bus station where you wait in the morning). The more dramatic and wacky the scene, the better you can remember it.

5. The last step of the SCALM technique is the Memorization of the images .

If you applied the method’s previous steps correctly and if you created powerful images and triggers for your memories, this step is very simple. You simply walk again in your mind along your route and all the words will appear in your mind’s eye in the same sequence.

If you want to use the SCALM method for large and different materials, you may consider creating (in advance) your collection of memory palaces, each meant to memorize a certain type of information

Because of the way the SCALM Method is organized, practicing it should help you internalize many memory improvement principles and help you overcome obstacles that prevent you from becoming a super learner. I can tell you for sure is that the SCALM method is a very efficient way to learn large volumes of information accurately and for long periods and I’m sure that it can help you to become more efficient in your studies or in your career.

All the best
Chris M Nemo
Memory Improvement Writer & Blogger

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This sounds extremely similar to the “divide & conquer” (“söndra & härska” in Swedish) methodology that Oddbjørn By writes about in his book “Memo”. He breaks it down into 5 steps:

  1. Learn
  2. Keywords
  3. Associate
  4. Memorise
  5. Repetition

== 1. Learn ==

Read the text/document/whatever and understand it (in your words - “structure the information”).

== 2. Keywords ==

Break out keywords that will help you remember the essence of the text (in your words “chunking”).

== 3. Associate ==

Come up with an association for each keyword (same as you).

== 4. Memorise ==

Memorise by putting the association on a journey (your step 4&5 - localisation and memorisation).

== 5. Repetition ==

Spaced repetition to keep it in the long-term memory.

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I think the comparison is a bit forced. Apart from the fact that both methods have 5 steps each, there are significant differences between the approach to the learning process of the two systems.

Let’s take them one at a time:

  1. “Structure the information” vs “Learn == Read the text / document / whatever and understand it”.Structuring information in the form of a mind map means more than reading to understand the text, it is a proactive ordering of the entire material in a visual form. What is visual is easier to remember.

  2. “Chunking” vs “Keywords = that will help you remember the essence of the text”
    The chunking process used by the SCALM method cuts whole pieces of text (not just keywords), which will be associated with easy-to-remember images.
    Often, there are more complex structures in a chunk, such as lists, numbers, formulas, that you can’t reduce to a single keyword.

  3. “Association” vs = “association for each keyword.”
    There is a difference between a mnemonic image and a keyword, because an image can encode much more information than a single word.
    The SCALM method comes with a set of memory techniques that transform abstract concepts (sometimes whole lists of abstract items, numbers and data) into easy-to-remember images.There are also some clear rules for using these tools, depending on the type of material to be associated with memorable images.
    Association is a fairly broad concept and is the key to any learning technique, but the tools that help you to encode and decode the concepts to be learned are essential. The SCALM method has a very practical approach in this direction.

  4. “Localization” vs “Memorize by putting the association on a journey”
    I agree that these steps are somewhat similar,being an application of the memory palace technique.

  5. “Memorization” vs “Spaced repetition”
    The SCALM method involves rehearsing the learned material, by walking again mentally along your routes, while Spaced repetition is a distinct method of repeating the material at certain intervals which usually uses flashcards. I do not deny its effectiveness, but it is a different memorization technique.

Anyway, thanks for your interest and for your observations.
All the best
Chris M Nemo

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Well @ChrisMNemo It has been found that Daniel Tammet’s brain stores information in structured chunks which enhance recall and I believe that this is the reason due to which by using your method people can retain information longer and also because our brain has a higher storage capacity for pictures(Which is used in this method) and Daniel Tammet is the smartest man in the world who has memorized Pi up to thousands of digits and can perform large calculations instantly,

And I have written the steps of your method for creating structured chunks and them memorizing them using images for which our brain has a higher capacity below -

1.Structure
2. Chunk

  1. Localize
  2. Asociate
  3. Memorize

And the steps for memorizing structured chunks without The Method of Loci are in bold,

Cheers.

This method basically resumes what a person that is relatively used to mnemonic techniques do, with the caveat of the point number one, that is optional, so how could that method be useful?

Using an orderly structure (created using the Loci method) and Chunking the information into small, easy-to-handle pieces are two essential conditions for a long-term memorization.
But I would like to emphasize the important role that memory techniques have in the Association stage, because this is where the magic happens. Abstract concepts become easy-to-remember images.
The SCALM method combines several easy-to-use memory techniques and brings some rules for choosing them.Here are the general rules :

  1. For lists of concepts(lists are the most common type of information that you will have to remember)- you can choose one of these memory techniques :
    -Acronyms (for small lists- up to 7-8 items);
    -The Sentence Method (for lists up to 15-20 items)
    -The Story Technique (for larger lists);
    -Rhymes and Jingles (for auditory learners).
  2. For Numbers and dates- use The Major System
  3. For difficult terms ( regardless of whether they are difficult words in your native language or foreign, words that you aren’t familiar with) - use The Sound Alike method
  4. For Names- use The Names Association method or The Sound Alike method.

However, there are no rigid rules for choosing the right method. Two or more methods can be combined for memorizing more complex chunks of information.

At the end of the association step, we have a series of simple and easy to memorize images, which we will place in order along a memory palace that will help us to memorize them in order.

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Hi @ChrisMNemo,

I’m currently having to learn a huge amount of information for some professional technical exams but I’m still fairly new to memory techniques, and your explanation caught my eye. One part of your explanation I didn’t understand is your example of the sentence method:

How are you distinguishing Organs and Organ Systems?

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Applying the sentence method assumes that you already have an idea of the topics on the list, and the mnemonic sentence will only help you remember them in order when you need them.
The Sentence method is a variant of the Acronym Method, in which only the first letter of the items in the list counts. If you want to have more clues about the compound term, without complicating yourself too much, you can use a capital letter as a clue for the second word (in this example: ObeSe= “Organ Systems”).
If you need to go into more detail with your items, I recommend you to use The Story method, even in the case of lists with few items. A story can contain more details than a mnemonic acronym or sentence.

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