Somehow, some of the things we learn do stick, and I'm always so curious to see which things stick, and why. I love to look for clues that point out the best ways for each member of our family to learn AND REMEMBER.
(and, if we're lucky, even USE - oh, happy day!)
Recently, we were driving home from a short beach trip, and we were treated to one of the most breathtaking sunsets I've ever seen. It wasn't particularly colorful, although there were some of the swirling oranges and reds we are used to seeing. There was this one pale cloud, though, that was entirely rimmed with white light, and several times we even saw it form a little cap or "halo", a neon rainbow circle that crowned the cloud's highest peak. And behind us, the full moon was brilliantly lit with reflected light.
Which led us to discussing how the moon and the clouds don't actually generate light of their own. We'd covered this a couple of years ago, but I had no clue if the kids would remember much from the lesson. Madeline piped right up though, and said, "Sure, it's just like a baseball game, remember?" And then I remembered that when we talked about how the sun's light reflected off the moon back toward earth, Madeline had come up with that baseball analogy.
The sun is the pitcher. He throws the ball (light) towards the batter (the moon, or other object), and the ball is hit back towards the fielders (us).
This visual had stuck with her all that time, and, from what Claire said when it came up, it had stuck with her sister, too. I've found that analogies to familiar concepts really help me understand and remember new concepts and relationships. Apparently they help the girls as well.
So, now I'm curious how we can come up with more analogies. If a textbook doesn't point one out (which they often don't) then it means we have to do a little thinking about what we are learning, asking ourselves what this information reminds us of. ("This is just like . . . ") I'm guessing this is where a fertile imagination comes into play! So, maybe searching for analogies helps in more than one way.
- #1) it helps cement understanding and retention
- #2) It helps exercise and develop the imagination.
Analogies are also indispensable in writing. They help communicate information to an audience in a clear and colorful way. Just like a picture, sometimes one apt analogy can be worth a thousand words. (see the analogy I used, there?!) I suppose that makes three ways that working to think in terms of analogies can help:
- #3) improves writing and communication
Looks like devoting a little extra brainwidth to focus on analogies is a solid investment. What would that look like in your family?