Use it or Lose it

“Data from the United States, England and 11 other European countries suggest that the earlier people retire, the more quickly their memories decline.” (From today’s Times.)

I’ve started home schooling myself on subjects I’ve never been good at or just missed altogether. First up is geography. Beginning with Asia, every day I test myself by naming countries on a blank map. I learn a few each day, but by the next day I’ve forgotten most of the ones I’d learned. Very frustrating, but eventually it started to take and I’m up to 40 that I can consistently remember every day.

Yesterday I couldn’t help thinking it was kinda pointless, and maybe there was something more useful I could be learning, but now I’m thinking if nothing else it’s good brain exercise.

A biker riding past Madison Square Park.


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

3 thoughts on “Use it or Lose it

  1. When you pick a country, google it, so you can learn something about it. That will make it real to you. What’s the point, toherwise?

  2. I’m just catching up with this now, but I was going to say the same thing. If you try to memorize something in a rote-like fashion, it usually only stays in your short-term memory. You have to “attach” the information to something meaningful or make a connection to something else you already know in order for that information to stay with you.

    Also, you should try to find out methods that work best for you. For example, if you’re a visual or kinesthetic learner, you could cut out pictures of the area and then paste them to the proper areas of a blank map. Try it and see what happens!

    OR, you could try the reverse of what Dan said. Google news items and then try to find the origin of the place on a world map.

    I love that you’re doing stuff like this.

  3. Yeah, I just watched this movie about Estonia, after only recently learning where it is on a map. It made me feel good to know I knew where they were, and enhanced the movie for me.

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