Memory vs Understanding

I have a pretty good memory. Call it an ability or skill (I prefer the latter, personally), it was something I got thinking about today.

Now, I don’t remember *everything* – my memory is not photographic. I do remember anything I happen to pay attention to, though. It’s generally an ability I use to annoy, though it does let me sail through quite a lot of things. I can remember conversations word for word *, random numbers. Sometimes, entire modules of code if I happen to be the person who wrote it.

Here’s the thing though – while it’s handy, it doesn’t bring with it the ability to understand things. I think this is an important distinction, especially when I think about my education. I was able to get through my GCSE’s not by understanding the content, or even revising – but mainly by remembering things, and using logic for the rest, Later, I got more disciplined. and started actually revising. Although if I’m completely honest with myself, my academic success is down mainly to an ability to recite by rote as opposed to actually understanding things. I did get better at understanding the underlying material later during studying for my degree, as my own interest in the subject steered me that way.

There’s not really much point to this post other than random musing, I guess. What does bear thinking about – for me, at least – is that testing metrics throughout academic subjects are slightly off, if I can acknowledge that I didn’t always understand the underlying material, but still scored highly anyway. Maybe that’s why I always preferred coursework to exams, since it seemed more challenging, if only because I had to demonstrate an understanding of the work.

None of this means that I won’t continue to use my memory for evil to annoy to make life easier, of course. If anything, I may actually start looking into ways to improve my memory further as a little side project.

This is most likely down to the fact that I am female. All women have this ability, so that they can beat people around the head with what they said *years* after the event. True facts!


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