North, East, South, West – Learning and how you use it

There’s some educational science which shows that how you learn things should be in a similar way to how you use that information.

Compass with North, East, South and West listed

Compass with North, East, South and West listed

A good example of where this often doesn’t happen is when you are trying to use a mnemonic, acronym or song to remember a list of different things. For example I learnt about the directions of North, South, East and West by using the phrase “Never, Eat, Soggy, Wheatbix”, or another being “Never, Entertain, Sexy, Women”. This makes it easy to learn the directions but harder to recall them. For example I have my private pilots license and you have to use the compass directions a LOT, yet I still could only work out South or West after having played in my head the other two directions. Whilst I got much faster at going around the compass in my head I still couldn’t access it randomly. I couldn’t relate to it with the speed that I think about going forwards or backwards or left vs right.

Basically I learnt the list in a linear way but I want to access in a random way. Chemists learning the periodic table often have the same issue.

What other examples do you have of this?

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