My song today is ‘Unforgettable’. This popular song was written by Irving Gordon. The song's original working title was ‘Uncomparable’; however, the music publishing company asked Gordon to change it to "Unforgettable". The song was published in 1951. The most popular version of the song was recorded by Nat King Cole in 1951 from his album ‘Unforgettable’ (1952). In 1991, the remixed version reached Number 14 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart, and also Number 3 on the ‘Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart’. The song also won three awards at the 34th Annual Grammy Awards (1992): ‘Song of the Year’: ‘Record of the Year’, and ‘Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance’. Nat King Cole's original recording was inducted into the ‘Grammy Hall of Fame’ in 2000.
The things which remain the most memorable are the things that were the most unusual in our lives. That is what makes them ‘unforgettable’.
When I ran adult social skills groups between the 1970s and the 1990s, one of my group sessions would include how to improve one’s memory. Improving one’s memory essentially involves understanding and reversing the process of ‘how we forget’. The human brain is less likely to take on board and remember any detail which is introduced to it in a boring or matter of fact way. Conversely, the human brain is more likely to receive and remember any details which is presented to it in a manner that stimulates the imagination and evokes an associative feeling.
Let us look at the task of two teachers who are wanting their class to learn the same poem by heart. The first thing for the two teachers to decide is ‘the process’. They need to ask themselves, which is the best method which is most likely to help the pupils remember the words of the poem? Do I ask them to open their textbooks, and instruct them to keep reading the poem over and over until they can recite the poem by heart? Or do I keep reading the poem out loud to them, and emphasising different sections as I go along by putting more feeling into where and how I speak the words so as to produce the most dramatic effect on the listener’s ears?
None of us need to guess which is the best teaching method to employ. Whichever teacher can best capture the interest of their pupils from the start of the lesson will be on a winning streak. Once their pupil’s interest has been captured, the receptive forces of the pupil’s mind and body are more likely to follow suit and surrender to the teacher’s tactical methods of instructive ‘association’.
I recall seeing a film about Robin Hood when I was a child. In the film, Robin was telling his men of Sherwood Forest that if they stuck together, they would become a much stronger force that the Sherriff of Nottingham would find harder to beat than if they continued to fight their battles with him individually. To demonstrate this point, Robin decided to show them what he meant. He took one arrow shaft and asked one of his men to break it in two, which was done with little effort. Then, Robin placed two arrow shafts side-by-side and asked his man to break them in two again. When Robin repeated the task with three arrow shafts side-by-side, his man found them impossible to break!
Whenever a teacher takes two separate things and places them together side-by-side, it is virtually impossible for the class pupil to continue to view those two separate things any longer as representing a single entity. The most effective of teachers know this, and that is why they chose to ally their spoken words with the creative imagery of their class pupils. The combination of these two things (the teacher’s spoken word and the pupil’s mental imagery) are immediately joined by the third crucial element of ‘feeling’ in this learning process. Once words, imagery, and feeling have been associated within one lesson or life event, the holy trinity of ‘an unforgettable experience’ has been formed (and like the three arrow shafts demonstration by Robin Hood) cannot be broken! That is why some people in their old age can still recite word for word, a poem, or part of some famous speech in a Shakespearian play that they were introduced to in class as a child.
In my late 40s, I decided to take a teacher training course for working with adult students at night school. During this course, I was introduced to a lesson I never forgot. There are two types of people when we examine the ways one predominantly uses their brains to learn. The Left-brained person is the individual who is and looks at the problems of life in a logical, rational, and practical way. They place greater importance upon the spoken word. They tend to be the practical doers with a bit of thinking thrown in. Then, there is the Right-brained individual who is influenced more by imagery. They tend to be the more artistic type of person who experiences and sees things in a different way to the Left-hand brained person. Put these two types into a heated discussion and they will never see eye to eye about the same topic which they experience differently.
The teaching lesson that remained with me was this. The two types of learners in any class need two different types of methods to learn the same thing. All the Left-brained learners will respond better and take in the required detailed knowledge if they are being taught by the spoken words of the teacher at the front of the class; whereas all the Right-brained learners will respond better and learn more easily if the teacher draws a picture or a diagram of what he is trying to impart to his pupils on the blackboard or by overhead projected images and pictures. That is why the best teachers and lecturers do both, by talking and showing images. In this way, they appeal to the most prominent learning methods of all their pupil class; both Left-brained and Right-brained!
This combination of the precise words we use, the images we create inside our heads, and the feelings we emote within our bodies determine the nature of all our experiences. Our experiences can represent something which is positive and life-affirming, as well as being capable of representing unhealthy and emotionally disturbed states of mind and body. However, that is a subject for another day.
Love and peace