January 11, 2014
I am presently reading a book entitled " Orality and Literacy" by Walter Ong in which Ong provides an insightful analysis of the two concepts: oral cultures and literate ( both chirographic, typographic, and later on electronic ) cultures. Ong argues that oral cultures were not able to develop logical and conceptual thought and that their thinking was purely operational and situational. Without a written language to store and save knowledge , there was no referential data for others to reflect and build on. Even for recollections, oral people drew on the heavy use of rhythmic patterns :
In a primary oral culture, to solve effectively the problem of retaining and retrieving carefully articulated thought, you have to do your thinking in mnemonic patterns, shaped for ready oral recurrence. Your thought must come into being in heavily rhythmic, balanced patterns, in repetitions or antitheses, in alliterations and assonances, in epithetic and other formulary expressions, in standard thematic settings (the assembly, the meal, the duel, the hero’s ‘helper’, and so on), in proverbs which are constantly heard by everyone so that they come to mind readily and which themselves are patterned for retention and ready recall, or in other mnemonic form.However, what I want to draw your attention to today is the power of note taking in consolidating our insights and increasing our retention powers, something which Ong has indirectly alluded to when he talked about the intellectual revolution spurred by the invention of the writing system. The visual below clicks in with some of what Ong talked about. It basically features some very interesting facts about the importance of note taking.
Here are some interesting highlights from it :
- Humans forget things easily, and the more time passes the more we forget.
- Only 10 percent of an audio lecture may last in memory, but students who take and review their notes can recall about 80% of a lecture.
- University of Washington research suggests that physical writing ( chirographic ) activates regions of the brain that involve thinking, language and working memory.
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