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National Editorials & Columns

Nothing makes literacy as valuable as adding experiences

“What haven’t you done?” was asked in editor Bob Eschliman’s Dec. 31 Column which struck a note with me. I remember giving a presentation with a co-worker and we introduced ourselves.

Introductions basically are to prove you have the right to say what you say. I went first and when my colleague started she said, “I don’t have comparable experiences, but I have some education that I hope will lead to valuable experiences.”

I thought what a great attitude. Nothing makes literacy as valuable as adding experiences. Up to that point I had never overviewed my past experiences. Life had given me some challenges and I met them as best I could. 

The result was I engaged in a wide range of experiences, which led to learning in more than four fields that aren’t usually linked together. On the way to the education I needed for each of those fields I lived life in the everyday trenches.

I found them just as inspiring as my formal learning. Learning is learning no matter where it happens, in the classroom, in the field, or in encounters. The importance is how we use our learning and how we identify with others. The past steps on the heels of the present, but we are called to march onto the future.

Remembering and being able to apply what we remember is an integral part of literacy. As a teacher and pastor, I believe mnemonic devices (memory tricks) give staying power to needed information.

What are mnemonics? Memory frameworks that help hold material in the brain. It takes ten times the effort to correct incorrect learning than it does to learn it right the first time. Experiences hook old learning to new learning.

Mnemonics help us remember specific things. Some most of us learned are the acronyms: HOMES (The Great Lakes); FACE (The spaces on the treble clef); ROY G. BIV (Colors of Rainbow).

Simple ways in everyday life to help your child remember are encouraging them to help you remember appointments, etc. by creating a mnemonic device. Have your child memorize where the groceries on your grocery list can be found in your favorite store using a mnemonic device. 

Have your child memorize five important phone numbers using a mnemonic device. Our brains are wonderful computers; the more we use them, the less they wear out and the more valuable they become.

Throughout the next few columns we’ll travel down memory lane reviewing some mnemonic devices you were taught and maybe some you weren’t, but would be helpful to you. One concern of aging is all the things we forget.

Use action (the more humorous the better) to form a mental picture. Example: (Parts of Speech) Verbs jump; prepositions relate; adjectives bounce; nouns name; pronouns hide; adverbs intensify; interjections exclaim.

Acrostics help us remember by creating a sentence using the first letters of a word or phrase relating to it. Good Boys Do Fine Always (The Bass Clef Lines). Creating a chain of events such as to remember the order of the U.S. wars start with “The very tired soldier marched through the Revolutionary War, the Civil War …”

Healthy reading enables a child to observe solutions to problems of which he/she may have never considered. Carlson states, "Individuals growing up today are faced with a lifelong task of running to catch up ... They need to become 'learning' persons, not 'learned' persons."

Nonfiction is a forward thrust in this direction.  Encourage your child to indulge in a good biography, an article in a newspaper or magazine.  Often these reading experiences lead to further research.

Through November I discussed aspects of Native American Literature. America is so fortunate to have so many cultures contributing its best. Hispanics and Latinos have added to our life in America in many ways. 

Reading biographies help us learn about contributions and help us see heroes in everyday ways that lead to inventions, etc. that make a difference to our world.

When we say "Hispanic or Latino," whom are we talking about? For sure, their heritage is not from one nation, nor one culture. Instead, Hispanics and Latinos are greatly diverse people.

Their cultural and linguistic origins are Spanish and Latin American, regardless of race and color. They can be of European, Indian or African descent, or any combination of these three. They can have cultural ties to Mexico, the Caribbean countries, Central America, South America or Spain itself.

They are us.

We know that Native Americans were here before Plymouth Rock in 1620. When the Pilgrims were struggling to maintain their tiny colony, Spanish towns were already growing and flourishing in Florida, the Southwest and Puerto Rico.

The Spanish Crown enabled Christopher Columbus to come to this continent. Ponce de Leon explored Florida in 1513. Besides contributions to our history, Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to every area of life and reading biographies bring them to life. 

In acting, read about: Anthony Quinn, who made more than 100 films and won two Oscars; Ricardo Montalban, who made numerous popular movies and starred in the 1980s television series "Fantasy Island." There is much more.

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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