Method of Loci

I am comfortable with visualization. I think it comes from being a team-sport athlete. Somewhere along the way a coach of mine showed us how to visualize the game. I learned to see the space on the field and imagine what to do with it before I did it. I learned to see the game in front of me and create the movement. I was in control. It was up to me to be the instigator of plays and mover of the ball.  However, this kind of visualization is different that the Method of Loci used to remember Wilson’s Situated Instructional Design. The Method is meant to help you memorize ideas by assigning them to images, to movement, in order to create almost like a memory. This kind of visualization creates the past as if it really happened. You take something you are so familiar with that the memory of it is like a photograph in your hand. Then you superimpose new ideas into the memory in order to recapture something important. Hopefully, you can then refer back to the created memory because it now has emotional meaning to it that it didn’t before.

This is a fascinating concept, but then I think about what my students would do with it. I was that student that thought things like this were dumb. I wonder what my students would do in class if I walked them through this kind of memory work? Since meeting the Internet, my students can’t remember my name even by the end of the year. Would they scoff at this kind of exercise? Or would they take the time to create something with it… like new knowledge?

This method could work for them, but for me I hadn’t been specific enough with my time and place. I don’t have a favorite room. I don’t have a lot of favorites anyway. I do however have locations that stick to me like peanut butter on a dog’s tongue. But, these emotional palaces are too broad for this exercise. I can imagine myself as student staring back at me the teacher refusing to visualize. When prompted, my student self would say, “I don’t have a favorite room.” My teacher self would just say, “Use any place that you can clearly remember…” Then my student self would find some new response that is just as dense and unimaginative as the last excuse. And she may pretend to do the exercise, but that doesn’t really count does it?


So does this work? Could it be used? Possibly, but I’d have to do a lot of my own pre-game visualization to prepare for my most stubborn students.


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