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The Sponge Effect. Do you forget what’s learned after an exam?

March 27, 2012

 I keep imaging this sponge left by the sink, getting wetter and wetter in my attempts to do some kitchen stuff. And I keep focused on that glorious picture and then (in my mind of course).. there’s always someone to pick it up, causing a major flood on the floor, as water starts flowing down. This is what I call the “Sponge Effect”.. and I imagine the same thing happening to my brain after an exam.

Back in high-school we used to call this “Brain Damage”. It starts at the moment (usually a week before certain exam) you start preparing yourself for the upcoming information overload. It usually begins at the end of the 3rd hour of the so called “revision” which I describe as: “studying because I was sleeping when we had that lesson“. Then.. estimately a week later (which includes the daily Facebook dose) the process comes near to its end – the draining. The name of this phenomenon comes from the fact that after you’ve overloaded your brain with new information (like a sponge soaking up water), you literally flood your exam paper while draining the knowledge out of your brain cells! Sadly, the final stage of the “Brain Damage”  guarantees that you will have your mind as empty as a dry sponge.

I don’t have a real academic source for what I am about to say but I am going to base my whole new theory on what my Spanish professor, my Biology and Music teachers used to say. Not sure which one of them loved to remind us that the best quality of the human brain is to forget. ‘Not cool!’ , you’d think but imagine what will happen to your computer when the memory is full and you want to save something new.. Nothing! You’ll have to delete quite a lot of stuff, right?

However, just like with computers, there is always some way to find that certain file has existed somewhere out there at some point. My biology teacher described the forgetting process as zipping your memories in folders deep inside your memory. Explains a lot? Certainly! Deja Vu, “Oh, I’ve heard that one!”, etc. Yet, it doesn’t take that much to unlock one of these memories but note that the information you’d remember is really specific! It will be either something that made you an impression, based on humor, fear or warmth (remember these?) or the parts of the information that you’ve repeated the most. You know, “repetition is the mother of learning”.

My 4th grade music teacher highly respected this fact. Even tough that her subject was so irrelevant (not for me), she insisted on systematic learning with tables, charts and quotes. This gives you the opportunity to put all the information that you could possibly use for the exam (and more important to remember afterwards) in a simple format. Moreover, it makes it easier for you to use the “Rondo” strategy!

Rondo is a music term and it’s repetition of certain music themes in given order. In music you’d probably refer to chorus, solo or etc. but when it comes to studying, you can associate it with theory, explanation, conclusion or what so ever. Why is it useful? Because it’s the best way to revise and this way you’d keep on repeating the parts that you need the most for the exam (these are most likely to be zipped in your brain and potentially unlocked).

Basically, the Sponge Effect is inevitable but there is a way to put your knowledge in your backup memory! My way is the “Rondo” thing and it’s been working so far. I believe that every one has their own methods but it’s not what I want to point out.  I don’t even want to talk about why it’s an inevitable thing because it’s obvious.. Stress! However, I believe that the high-school students have the major problem that in their attempts to get an A on certain exam, they forget to train (they just don’t do that) their inter head-box muscle and they are not likely to learn how to process and zip information!

I consider this a huge problem! First of all because the point of pre-school and secondary education is to give you as much information about the world as possible. At the same time – to provide the students with the physical and psychological training to  perceive information and transform it into believes, values or real work practise if you wish. From that point on we come to my second conclusion.

People who lack of the zipping application are most likely to fail getting a University degree. So, I will leave things here as I am in deep waters now. Not that I can’t or don’t want to keep on digging but I am at my first year at University and the only thing that I can add to this post (from my educational experience) is that there are some good reasons why high-education is.. high! Few of them are that you are supposed to be prepared for the mental challenge of being half-student, half-professional. Furthermore – even though that the Uni degree doesn’t involve going on campus everyday, it just demands tones of informational income.

After all, it’s just up to you to workout.. mentaly. It’s not like you’re in total control of your brain functions but the least you can do is to keep on practising. If not for your own sake, at least to take control of the Sponge Effect. As much as I want to know “Do you forger what’s learned after an exam?” (sometimes, I find it even difficult to remember what was on the exam), I just won’t ask because I already know the answer. What I also know is what’s the key to my backup memory..

It’s my eyes! What’s yours?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. frigidaire appliances parts permalink
    October 18, 2014 02:32

    I do not drop many remarks, however i did some searching and wound up here The Sponge Effect.
    Do you forget whats learned after an exam?
    | Wordchaos.. And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright.
    Is it only me or does it give the impression like some of these comments appear as if they
    are left by brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are writing at additional online social sites, I’d like to follow anything new
    you have to post. Would you make a list of all of
    your public pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


  1. Education – the fountain of regrets! « Wordchaos.
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