In Irish mythology there is a great hero called Fionn Mac Cumhaill (it sounds a little like FunMcCool!). When Fionn was a boy he served the poet Finn Eces as an apprentice. Eces had long fished for a salmon which was rumoured to have all the knowledge in the world and one fateful day he finally caught it. He gave it to Fionn and told him to cook but not to eat the fish.
Fionn did as he was told but he touched the roasting fish with his thumb to check if it was cooked. The salmon’s flesh was very hot and Fionn quickly put his burnt thumb in his mouth and thereby accidentally gained all the knowledge in the world.
We know that salmon is a great source of brain friendly Omega-3 fatty acids but that’s not the only lesson we can take from this story. Imagine learning is like fishing and knowledge is the fish. What do we need to acquire the knowledge? Just like the frustrated Eces, we need a Hook.
The Hook System
The Hook or Peg System was developed by Henry Herdson in 1651 and is still being used today. It can help you to memorize lists of unrelated items, like a shopping list for example.
The trick is to develop and learn a series of hooks that you will pin the item you wish to remember on. To gain your very own set of hooks, you need to make numbers more memorable. For example, you could think of something that rhymes with each number, like this:
Rhymes with “bun”
Rhymes with “shoe”
Rhymes with “tree”
Rhymes with “door”
Rhymes with “hive”, etc.
Now imagine I need to remember to buy broccoli, milk, coffee, chocolate and salmon. How can I ensure that I do not forget anything? If I imagine each item interacting with the hook that I created remembering the list should be a breeze!
The first item is broccoli, so I’ll imagine eating some raw broccoli between two burger buns. Try this with me! Imagine the texture and taste of the bun and broccoli. The warmth of the buns and the cold of the raw broccoli. Try to make it as real and memorable as possible.
Next is milk. Imagine pouring milk from a shoe into your cup or onto your cereal. Make the shoe as memorable as possible by thinking of a sweaty, dirty trainer for example. Think of the smells of the trainer as you pour out the milk, the worse or the more unusual you can make the shoe the better the hook!
Now coffee. Imagine needing your first cup of coffee but there’s a giant tree growing out of the jar! You can’t get to the jar because of the many thick branches that block your way! Imagine the cuts and grazes you get trying to access your coffee.
Next up is chocolate. Imagine you are Hansel or Gretel and you find a house in the forest with a door made out of chocolate! Try to imagine the taste of the chocolate as you nibble at the door.
Last on our list is salmon. Imagine a whole salmon that you cooked for a dinner party but as soon as you cut into the fish a swarm of angry bees fly out! Imagine your guests fleeing in horror!
That’s our list! Can you recall the items?
To help you remember try to make the images as absurd as possible. Try to evoke emotions, exaggerate the size of things. Employ humour. Use sexy images if that helps you remember, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s memorable!
Rhyming is not the only way to remember numbers, you could also try shapes. For example one may remind you of a candle, two a swan and so on.
In a future post I will talk about how to expand the hook system to remember much longer lists, numbers and dates but until then practice developing your hooks!
Thanks for reading! If you liked it then please share and tweet to your pleasure and feel free to comment below but play nice! Abusive comments may be removed.
If you liked this post then please consider feeding my addiction