In this second article I will deal with long-term memory ( MLT ) and I will do it starting, as always, from my pedagogical experience, using an invented name to protect privacy.

Teresa’s parents came to me because their daughter, second middle class, had already changed several schools as she had often been bullied and excluded from the group of “popular” peers due to her shy and very polite character, that made her look smaller than her age; this discomfort had also had negative repercussions on school performance for which the parents had made her change school several times but the situation had not yet changed so much that Teresa intended to leave school after the eighth grade.

The girl sitting in front of me was really disheartened, silent tears were running down her cheeks as she confided to me that she was convinced that she was ” stupid” , because ” even when I’m sure I know the subject, at the time of verification or question I can hardly ever remember things. My teammates do it so I’m sure they are certainly smarter than me ”. Then he added : “It is useless to change schools because I know that no school is good for me because it is me who is not good for school” .

At the end of my pedagogical interview with the girl I understood that her difficulty was linked not to a physiological aspect of learning but to the mnemonic aspect and, in particular, to the long-term memory deficit.

It was able to record recent data, of whatever nature (sequential, spatial, verbal) but could not store and retrieve information from long-term memory.

At the school level, she was very passionate about everything that was creative and led to tangible information: art, technology, science. He loved algebra but found it hard to remember the multiplication tables; grammar was also difficult but he was able to express himself quite well in the themes as long as they were of a personal nature or on didactic topics he had recently learned.

In order to remember information stored in long-term memory it is important that it has been archived with systematic criteria . Archiving is followed by a phase called ” consolidation ” in which the information can be retrieved later.

The information can be stored, through specific sections of the MLT, in the following ways:

  • for procedures(eg how to brush your teeth): that is, remembering how to do things. The information to be kept is many and can be of a motor or non-motor nature but sequential;
  • by categories(eg all types of amphibians): the information is stored as if to form a sort of mental encyclopedia;
  • for couples(eg name + face; song + refrain): the association is generated when two parts of information are joined and fixed together so that thinking about one of the two terms automatically leads to thinking about the second term;
  • by rules(eg when to put commas): information is fixed with repetitiveness.

Let’s see which didactic strategies could be useful in reinforcing MLT for each of the aforementioned typologies:

  • for procedures:to strengthen the procedural memory the pupil with this deficit should, guided by parents and teachers, repeat the process that serves to store the information in the MLT several times in such a way that it can subsequently be recovered and, moreover, it is important that each step of the process is repeated clearly. In the case of Teresa, whose specific deficit was to be attributed to the procedural memory section , it was useful to record the repetition of these phases and listen to them again, to fix them, before carrying out the procedure. The same method is also used by her in the repetition of the lessons before the interrogations;
  • by categories:the facts filing system is divided not only into categories but also into sub-categories and sub-categories of sub-categories. In this sense, the mind works like a computer that has to archive different notions and categorizes them, even with sub-categories, creating folders and then sub-folders. A pupil with this deficit should, guided by parents and teachers, a graphic or conceptual map of the data they have to learn;
  • for couples:in the context of couples ‘ associations not all subjects with this deficitthey connect the same pairs in the same way. Some connect faces with names better, others, on the other hand, sometimes struggle even in the family environment; others are good at associating historical events with reference periods but struggle to match a term to its meaning. For these pupils it is important, always under the guidance of teachers and parents, to try to make combinations with multiple systems, such as, for example, saying them out loud or building maps with the computer. A useful game, which I make those who have this need play, which could then also be done at home, is to create associations with two terms that, previously, we have already seen together, and have them repeated, then say one and associate to the child / boy, the other term. Also useful is the famous Memory game,
  • by rules:during the scholastic course one is repeatedly exposed to schemes of all kinds in every subject: some are able to apply the rules correctly (eg at the beginning of the paragraph a capital letter is needed) while others fail at all or with great difficulty. Teachers could help these pupils to study by creating a logical sequence according to two parameters: if and then. An A4 sheet is divided into two columns, in one you will write IF and in the other you will write THEN (eg IF a geometric figure has 4 equal sides THEN it will be a square). If you have a blackboard available or a blackboard with large sheets, you can also draw the figure and then read the rule.


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