I’m Sam, and I’m a bookseller in the United Kingdom.
I first came across memory techniques from reading ‘Moonwalking with Einstein’. I began to use memory techniques at work to remember lists of books I’ve read in particular genres, or set in particular places, or with particular themes, and also to remember details of those books so that I’m able to give an informative pitch to customers.
Since then I’ve begun to appreciate how useful these techniques are, and to think about ways of sharing them. Every day I meet people who can’t remember the title of the book they came in for, or can’t remember the pin for their credit card, and I think how easily they could improve their lives by spending a bit of time learning and practising a few techniques. To that end, I memorise a deck of cards each day and use that to demonstrate what can be done, and I sell lots of copies of ‘Moonwalking With Einstein’!
My goal is to find a way into memory education, to share this amazing thing and help people. To that end, I’m working to improve my levels in memory sports with the intention of gaining some sort of qualification, ranking or prize. My hope is that this would give me some legitimacy to begin teaching others.
I’m really interested to connect with people who have similar aspirations, or have already done something similar and would be happy to give me some advice. I’m also really interested to connect with people who are just trying to improve their level in memory sports for the fun of it, particularly if they’d like to chat technique and training.
Hi Sam. Whereabouts are you from in the uk?
I live in the north, near Lancaster.
That is a good skill to have in your job which makes your job easier and more fun I suppose.
Interesting. Do you mean you do this as a demo to your customers while they are in the bookstore? If so how do you get them interested while they are looking for a book and not a memory method?
Haha, that’s one way of selling a lot of copies of a book.
It’s a great skill that is always useful no matter what you do.
That is a great goal, because you enjoy it, you will be very good at it.
I think you should get into competing a little if that’s the case.
I don’t think there is a memory course and an official qualification at the end of it. Why not start one yourself and give them the certificate of achievement? That would work.
I’ve done a lot of it, but not as official, apart from the forum, friends and family, and some uni students. I have also a lot of threads here and my aim is to always contribute where I can and learn more to improve myself and others.
I teach it to my friends, and some family members as and when I see them. I’ve got Fans My nephews. They love this memory stuff the more they can see how useful and fun it is to use them. They memorised all my numbers shapes in the very first lesson which took about an hour or so to learn. My latest training was a method of using mnemonics as a secret language, they absolutely loved it. I have a thread about all of it here on the forum.
I also thought about teaching this stuff to University students. I did teach it to a few students by way of some demos, and ended up with an invitation to teach a small class of 8 students, taught them how to memorise numbers, and by the end of the demo, they memorised 40 digits of p.i and surprised that they could do it even tho they didn’t believe they could. Perhaps you can try something similar to get some teaching experience.
Another place where I thought of teaching is the local Colleges. I never had the chance to go and find the right person to talk to because I am busy with my work, but if I have a chance I could create that extra time and love to teach to younger people to help them with their studies etc. I think there is a market for this in the colleges, because there is no such course. And if pitched well, the course could be created. I am actually thinking of doing this as a part time work, even if I don’t get paid for it. I’ll just do it for the love of helping others and seeing that it is useful to make their life much easier and more fun.
I use mnemonics in my job and my daily life, and love it, it is a skill that opens doors, makes friends and it’s lots of fun to use them. I also compete as and when I can at the ML, and practice as and when I can. I think perhaps you should get into training towards competing to get yourself ranked which would stand out when you show your score to your students.
There are no experts in this area - and (as yet) you do not need qualifications - I teach memory systems all the time in my work (in areas of music theory, musicians to learn to sight read, sales business scripts, maths - specifically calculus at the moment, and helping actors develop systems to learn lines, comedians to learn routines ) - all of which are (to me) interesting and impossible without the methods you speak of and as mentioned in Moonwalking with Einstein - but unlike yourself (and like Josh Foer) I am not drawn to memory athleticism, I think the methods are great (and useful) but the skill of memorising random numbers or decks of cards - those skills are not - very useful in themselves.
Firstly welcome to the forum-I would say ‘from a fellow Brit’ but neither of us are! I’m over the border in deepest , darkest Norfolk and you’re in that place between Watford Gap and Scotland
On the question of ‘Legitimacy’ - it isn’t necessary IMNSHO to win a competition, just break the 10 second barrier for a shuffled deck manually (ie not reading the cards off a screen) and prove you can do it .
Thanks for your reply, that’s really interesting. Your work sounds really varied, you’ve obviously given lots of thought to applying the techniques to different needs. Can I ask, were you already in teaching and then you began to introduce memory techniques as a different way of teaching, or were you led by the possibilities of the techniques?
I tend to agree with you regards memory athleticism. It’s not the thing which is going to help people necessarily, but in my imagination people will find my (again, imagined) memory athleticism impressive and allow me to show them how to remember their to-do list and their mother’s phone number.
The article you provided the link to is really fascinating; I’ve given very little thought to the application of memory techniques to psychology. Do you know if there’s more examples of similar usage?
Regards the demo to bookshop customers, I sometimes take the opportunity to speak about memory techniques if a customer mentions that they’ve left their shopping list at home, or forgotten their pin number. I’m fairly good at judging whether the customer’s going to be interested or not. I usually just say ‘there’s a book for that!’ in an offhand way, and then if they want to hear about it I’ll tell them about the book, and demonstrating that I’ve memorised the deck of cards in my pocket is a way of showing the potential of the technique.
I’m really interested to hear about your experience teaching memory techniques. It’s really cool that you’re able to enthuse your nephews. I frequently wish that I knew about these techniques when I was young enough to use them in my studies, so they’re lucky to have you. I will read your threads when I get a chance.
How did you go about getting into universities? Did you simply get in touch and offer to give them a demonstration?
Thank you for your advice regards competing. I don’t really know where to start with that, I gather there are live competitions but I guess they’re quite infrequent. I gather that it’s possible to compete online on Memory League, so I’ll work towards that for starters.
Thanks again for your reply, all the very best with your endeavours. Do keep in touch if you’d like to discuss ways of sharing memory techniques etc.
Thanks for your reply. I’m even further south than Watford Gap, down in Bath. What’s Norfolk like? What unusual highlights would you recommend to a tourist?
Thanks for your thoughts on the question of legitimacy. I like to have a tangible and challenging goal to aim for, but 10 seconds for a shuffled deck sounds like a but of a trial. Is that a common achievement?
Hi sam. I had a job contract for a few months with a small business in the university. And that’s where I had a chance to meet a lot of students.
The students visited the shop and had to wait for their orders. This was where I had an opportunity to get to know a few of them. Some of them were math students, and were getting ready for an exam. I just simply asked if they used any memorising techniques when studying because it involved numbers and shapes etc. They have somehow heard about it but knew nothing about it. I told them that I believe it would certainly help if they applied some memorising methods, and that it would help them with their exams. So I did a few demos and they got hooked. They wanted to know more about it, and I told them that if there was enough interest I could hold a workshop free of charge for a small class, teaching the basic methods to start with, and if they enjoyed it, they can then learn it at a higher level. So this was how it got started and I was approached by the leader of the math community to set a date.
If you like the idea of holding a class in a uni, I believe that once you create an interest with a few demonstrations, you probably would be invited to hold a free workshop-seminar, and see how it goes from there. It would certainly stand out on your CV.
It may be best to prepare your approach as to how you would introduce yourself.
The best idea would be to visit the website of a nearby university to get some upfront information.
If you actually go and visit the university , and see what kind of “unions” and “community groups” they have running. You’ll also notice they have a lot of events going on where anyone can join. Walk around, goto the library, and other places where they hang out such as meeting points, coffee shops, unions, and you’ll have a lot of ideas about how to start this conversation with them. One of which is the Student Union, which would give you access to all the students in the uni if you chat with the right person. If you can write a 30 page Ebook about some of the basic methods, and then offer it as a download to the student unions, and other communities to start an interest would probably work really well.
If you do have a chance to do this and gain some experience, please let us know your progress. I’d be the first one to read your’s and your student’s experience.
You can always send me a pm if you want to know more about what goes on with the student communities and other help as to what kind of methods you can teach to get them started.
Hi Sam, yes there is a whole academic discipline with published cargo-cult type research in this area and also (helpfully in my opinion) many well intentioned individuals with good ideas and interesting methods but unfortunately there are many more “out and out conmen” selling their services with practical methods. You will find all three groups well represented on this forum.
Unfortunately the academic research is not very practical, consistent or useful and the practical methods are not easily incorporated into any sort of 'General Theory" that makes any sense when looked at though the ‘scientific method’ - in short there are MASSIVE holes and anomalies in the psychological research and examples of methods which work amazingly well sometimes but don’t work when transferred to larger trials.
If this is of interest to you and you I might try and write a post with more details (opinions that means) on the General Memory Board - it would not really be appropriate to expand in this Introduce Yourself board.
Thanks for your detailed reply. There’s lots of good ideas to act on there, which I’ll follow up on when I feel ready to begin teaching others. I may PM you in the future to share experience and ideas if you’re happy for me to do that. All the very best.
Thanks for your reply. Hope the family thing went well!
Your reply is a really helpful summary of the current state of play regards our techniques and scientific research. I’d be grateful for a more detailed post on this: my main interest is in practical, life-improving uses of these techniques, and to that end any research being done into memory and mental health or self-improvement is right up my street. One of the first questions I’m asked when I talk about memory is whether there are practical applications, or if it’s only for the self-contained memory disciplines, and I’d love to know more about that.
Hi Sam, here is one of my posts about some of the practical applications of using memory systems and methods that I personally use myself. We can perhaps add a lot more to the list, but these are the basics that we often have to remember daily.
Really useful and considered post, thanks Erol! I’ve added that to my reading for the weekend. At some point I’ll fully explore the forum, I’m sure a lot of my questions are already being discussed and answered.