Using the Loci Method of Visualizing and Memorizing Materials

method of loci
method of loci


An author and educator in Columbia, MO, Willy Wood consults for Open Mind Technologies, Inc. As a proponent of classroom approaches that reflect the ways in which the brain actually processes information, Willy Wood teaches visualization strategies to help students memorize complex materials.

While acronyms, keywords, and rhymes are suitable for remembering simple materials, they do not work well for more complex facts and ideas. One approach, called “chaining,” involves creating a story (often nonsensical) using sound-alike words as a mnemonic for the words or concepts to be recalled.

The method of loci uses sound-alike words as well, but it emphasizes spatial details rather than a chain of narrative events. Using a familiar space, such as a childhood home or school, practitioners journey mentally through the spatial environment, connecting items specific to the materials they wish to memorize. One example involves remembering the stages of mitosis, in order. First, one would visualize entering (interphase) a bedroom and looking at pro (prophase) sports trophies sitting on a bookshelf. The next room is the kitchen, where meat (metaphase) is waiting on the table for dinner. This can continue as a lengthy narrative, which is often easier to remember than difficult scientific terms.


“Stretch” Methods of Setting in Place Achievable, Self-Generated Goals

Stretch Goals pic
Stretch Goals

As the head of Open Mind Technologies, Inc., Willy Wood provides advanced techniques of learning across disciplines, with a focus on language arts. Willy Wood has extensive experience in goal setting and self-improvement, and he wrote an article on why setting New Year’s resolutions often does not work.

One reason people fail to reach their goals is that they frequently set goals requiring serious effort to achieve without also creating a step-by-step plan for getting there. One way of avoiding this trap is to create “stretch” goals of an appropriate magnitude, such that they are challenging to achieve but by no means impossible.

Overly ambitious goals, such as losing 100 pounds or earning a prestigious award, may not only be impossible to achieve but may cause one to give up striving to achieve other goals in the future. On the flip side, goals that do not involve enough of a challenge may ultimately result in a why-bother attitude because they do not inspire or motivate.

Finding the middle way involves taking time to closely evaluate what you actually want to occur and to visualize the steps it will take to get there. Do not simply set an overarching goal but break it into achievable component parts and set and evaluate those goals on a monthly basis. Ultimately, setting goals effectively involves becoming your own boss and manager and holding yourself accountable.