Learning Obstacles

Struggles With Memory

Over the years, I have worked with students, who either had difficulty storing new information into short-term memory or who couldn’t retrieve the information from their long-term memory. A memory problem is an extremely difficult issue to battle for a child, since much of our educational system is based on memorizing volumes of information on a daily basis. The level of frustration can be unbearably high. A former student of mine recalls his experience as a teenager dealing with his struggles:

I was diagnosed with a memory disability after a series of tests performed by an educational specialist when I was around age thirteen. At the time, I don’t remember dwelling over it. The pain and suffering only came when big tests came up in middle and high school. Julie was and still is one of the most inspirational people I know today. Not only did she teach me skills for school and college, but also she has always been there for me as a friend and mentor.

I remember at a young age in history class having to prepare for a test. There was so much anxiety for me just because of the amount of information I had to learn. Julie helped me with her tools, which I still use daily, managing the information I had to memorize. We started studying for my history tests three weeks in advance, using mnemonics or acronyms to memorize placement of countries, cities, etc. on maps. Together we outlined up to six potential essay questions and memorized the outlines over time by recreating them both on paper and orally. We also found sites or books with multiple-choice questions. I would do up to six-hundred multiple choice problems before midterm and final exams, so that similar questions would appear, thereby becoming familiar and sticking in my mind. My junior year at a private, college-preparatory school in Los Angeles, I earned the third highest grade on the history final, which covered twenty-four chapters of information—an incredible accomplishment, considering that I could have easily failed it. In a way, I was taught to learn information in a different manner. Julie is sort of an artist when it comes to tutoring because she creatively finds ways to deal with each person’s individual circumstances. My skill-set could be completely different than someone else’s, yet the ultimate goal of learning would be accomplished.

Sometimes, I would forget to hand in an assignment that was completed; I even missed a midterm because I didn’t remember the correct time. Socially, I couldn’t always retain basic information that a friend told me or keep straight who told me what. Julie taught me to use gadgets to trigger my memory. I am in my mid-twenties now, and yet we were using Blackberries, tape recorders, and other instruments, now commonplace in today’s society, when I was a teenager. She taught me to set alarms on my Blackberry as a reminder to hand in my work or to get to my exam at the proper time. I also keep lists of what I have discussed with my friends, which I can refer to so that my friendships don’t suffer.

Julie really helped me develop my writing skills, which have become extremely important in my business dealings. I remember how she taught me the techniques of writing well-crafted essays, which became the essence of my writing—whether composing important e-mails or cover letters that support my résumé.

I am so happy I had Julie as a tutor and close friend and will never forget the skills she taught me because memorization is a key function in life.