Saturday, April 9, 2011

What do Memory Masters memorize?

Several weeks ago, the director of our Classical Conversations tutorial called to ask if Stephen would like to try to become a Memory Master.  I hadn't even talked to him about it, as I was feeling sort of lazy and not wanting to pursue something that would take a lot of effort in addition to our normal homeschooling routine.  Plus, at age 7, I thought it would require more maturity and was afraid of the outcome if he didn't make it. After all, many aren't ready for such a challenge until 5th or 6th grade.  Nevertheless, I asked him if he wanted to do it, and my heart sank when he exclaimed an emphatic YES!!!

At the time, we were NINE weeks behind on timeline memorization and SIX weeks behind on math memorization.  I had to kick into gear to figure out how we could memorize each week's new memory work along with the previous timeline and math we had let slide.  (Not to mention, we would also need to memorize the last FOUR weeks of our Classical Conversations material because the proofing process begins in week 21 of our 24-week CC schedule.)  It was tough, but we managed to figure out a schedule that would give us at least a chance at memorizing it all by the time the proofing process began.

So after weeks of diligent work, Stephen has earned the Cycle 2 Memory Master title.  It's very exciting and humbling to know that this was possible.  After all, in doing so I came face-to-face with my own laziness and tendencies to want to just give up.  This was not possible without God's help - with attitudes (mainly mine), with frustrations (mainly mine), with motivation, and with just plain bringing things to our remembrance (mainly Stephen).

So what in the world is a Memory Master? 

If you are unfamiliar with the Classical Conversations program, the material we study and memorize is done so in three cycles (see our previous post).  This year was Cycle 2, which included the following:
  • 160 events & people in a chronological timeline from Creation to Modern America. 
  • 44 U.S. Presidents
  • 122 Geographical locations, including countries in Central America and Africa, as well as countries, cities, features, and bodies of water in the Euro-Asian continent
  • 24 Science facts (in complete sentences) on ecology, astronomy, and physical science, including Laws of Thermodynamics and Newton's Laws of Motion.
  • 24 history sentences on the following:
    • Charlemagne
    • William the Conqueror
    • The Crusades
    • The Magna Carta
    • The Hundred Years' War
    • The Renaissance
    • The Protestant Reformation
    • European Exploration
    • Age of Absolute Monarchs
    • History of Russia
    • The French Revolution
    • The Battle of Waterloo
    • The Industrial Revolution
    • World Leaders and Countries of World War I
    • Leaders and beginning of World War II
    • Formation of the United Nations
    • Korean War
    • Vietnam War
    • Cold War
    • Fall of communism in Eastern Europe
    • Gulf War
    • Free elections in South Africa
  • 6 Latin conjugations (and their meanings) for the verb love
  • Times tables to 15x15, square, cubes, unit conversions, geometric formulas, and the algebraic laws of addition and multiplication
  • Definitions for pronoun, noun, adverb, adjective, gerund, appositive, conjunction, and interjection; double negatives; types of nouns; coordinating conjunctions; adverbs telling to what extent; and 65 pronouns
Stephen works on labeling maps.

A sampling of his Cycle 2 map practice
I have also been memorizing the material with Stephen, but I have to admit I still struggle with timeline and even have to calculate the 13 and 14 times tables in my head. Stephen has been through four proofings with four different people to ensure that he knows it all.  He does, indeed, know it all, but we are working on not being a know-it-all... He's learning some big lessons on how to share his accomplishment with others without boasting about it. 

Why memorize?

It's been lots of fun for us to come across things we've learned this year - in books, in movies, in museums - everywhere!  At supper one night, Stephen was talking about how his plate was like Europe. And the gravy was like Germany during WWII:  
"It's invading everywhere but there's a spot it didn't get to yet- that's Denmark. It's going to be invaded later."
He would NOT have said something so funny a year ago - he didn't know this geography or history, nor did I.

Did we learn anything else beyond the facts?  We learned how to step up to a challenge and see it through even when it gets difficult.  We've learned patience, self-control, diligence, patience, failing together, patience, succeeding together, courage, edifying one another, and in the end, humility.  I thank God that my child took me on this little journey of discovery!  God has made Himself known to us many times throughout this journey, and our goal is to use what we've learned this year to make Him known to the world around us.

1 comment:

  1. Just stumbled across this blog, and I'm hooked! We are also members of CC, and my kindergarten-age son also received the coveted "Memory Master" title this year. It definitely wasn't my plan, but he seemed to learn everything after just one hearing, so I figured that we would go for it. It was definitely worth the work. I really enjoyed reading the end of your post: "Did we learn anything else beyond the facts?" Yes, we did!