Stuck in Their Heads

Recitation is always an enjoyable experience as we listen to pieces shared by each grade level and see the progression of learning at ACA. As Nate Ahern explained yesterday morning, recitation is a wonderful opportunity to see a snapshot of each level of the trivium, from the Grammar stage where students are memorizing facts to the Rhetoric stage where students are eloquently expressing all that they have learned.

Yesterday when my 1st-graders arrived back in our classroom following recitation, a chorus of little voices exclaimed, “Mrs. Molen, we have the Northern Border States and Capitals song stuck in our heads!”

I smiled. “That's wonderful! That means I’ve done my job!”

The puzzled looks on their faces showed they were not expecting this response, so I explained. 

“Mr. Ahern actually hired me to do just that -- to get things stuck in your heads.”

This responsibility of getting information stuck in my students’ heads excites me. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity daily to see light bulbs come on as my 1st-graders learn new things, and to share in their love of learning. Early in the year, when we were practicing some of our chants, I shared the following story with my students to explain why we continue to review information we have already learned.

“Close your eyes and imagine that we are standing in a huge field with grass taller than you. Now imagine that one of our classmates runs across the field to the other side. Would you be able to see your friend? Would you know how to find him? It would probably be difficult and take a long time to cross the field and find your friend.

Now imagine that one of our classmates runs across the field to the other side followed by all of the kindergarteners, 2nd graders, 3rd graders, 4th graders, 5th graders, 6th graders, and upper-schoolers. Imagine that all of your moms and dads and brothers and sisters also follow him to the other side. Would you know how to find him now? What do you think would happen to that tall grass after all of these people followed the same path to the other side? The grass would be flattened. It would be simple and quick to run across the field to your friend.

When we memorize chants, jingles, and songs and review them over and over, we are doing the same thing. We are creating pathways in our brains which make it simple and quick for us to remember information we have learned.”

Whether we are learning the states and capitals, the characteristics of mammals and birds, the definition of a preposition, a passage from Scripture, the doubles addition math facts, or the silent final E spelling rules, repetition helps us create those pathways in our brains so we can easily and quickly recall information. This becomes the basis for higher-level learning as students build on that information by asking hard questions and making connections later on.

That's my job, and it's a beautiful one. To get knowledge stuck in their heads.