What’s Worth Memorizing? An Exhibition that Combines Performance with Memory

As part of your final exhibition you must show yourself and us that you can do the following from memory:

  1. Recite a poem or song or story that is special to your family or community
  2. Draw a map of the world, freehand(conventional Mercator projection) and be prepared to place properly on your map at least 12 of 15 members of the United Nations that we shall randomly select for you.
  3. Draw a map of the United States, freehand, and accurately position on your map, at least 12 of 15 states that we will select for you at random.
  4. identify and answer questions about the current United States president, this state’s two US Senators the representative from your district, your state representative and senator and the mayor of this city.
  5. recite for us from memory a speech from history or literature that you find compelling and that we agree is appropriate for this exercise
  6. present a time line since 1750 that you have assembled over the last several years and be prepared to answer questions about any event that appears on it
  7. be prepared to identify five birds, insects, trees, mammals, flowers, and plants from our immediate local environment
  8. at a time mutually agreed on, we shall give you a test or an analogous problem such as a machine to disassemble or assemble and three days in which to memorize or master it. We will ask you to then to show us how well you have done this exercise
  9. be prepared to reflect with us on how you completed this memory task-that is how you best learned to memorize

This exhibition demonstrates that the student has skill in memorizing and that she is aware of basic facts that will serve her will it allows for a time trial, which implies that the student is sufficiently prepared in memory work to meet a reasonable deadline. In several areas it allows for student and faculty choice, thus providing opportunities for the faculty to match the exercise with a students interest and capabilities. It provides if the teacher wisely chooses to use it a springboard to the discussion of important matters the politics or physical geography of southern Africa illuminated by national boundaries, oar the meaning of family as expressed in a poem. It indicates the importance of knowing some things well enough to commit them to memory and the joy of reciting them. It provides students with the confidence that arises from memorizing something of consequence.

From Theodore R. Sizer Horace’s School: Redesigning the American High School (Houghton Mifflin, 1992)