It’s Such a Good Feeling

I wonder if there are such things as pointless facts.  As a kid, I memorized things.  The matching card game in Super Mario Brothers 3?  There were 15 possible boards and I studied a manual that highlighted the similarities and variations so that you could solve it in one attempt if you did it just right.  I was an ace.  When I went through my “I am very interested in basketball” phase, I wrote out and typed up statistics for my favorite college and NBA players.  I could make a statistical argument for John Starks being as good as Michael Jordan.  “Who?!” you ask. Calm down, I was 11!  

I still enjoy a memory game.  I won’t try to argue for the merits of the facts themselves, but noticing patterns is a simple joy.  Duck, Duck…goose!  Right?  Moreover, the thrill of mastery kept me coming back for more.

As an adult in my 20’s facebook game mania took over.  I couldn’t muster the interest, but I stumbled on an online quiz where you named the countries of the world in 15 minutes or less.  All 196 of them.  My best time was under 8 minutes and 30 seconds.  

It has to be the thrill and sense of accomplishment that comes with mastering something.  It’s the unspoken secret to all the productivity books that have the same advice: set small goals, get help from others, and chunk up the tasks.  Right?  

Of course my mind rushes to how I can apply this with my students.  But how can I apply this with myself and with others?  Is there a way to extend this kindness of mastery and accomplishment to other adults?  I’d actually love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for visiting.  For the month of March, this blog is all “Slice of Life” every day.

10 thoughts on “It’s Such a Good Feeling

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  1. I love your musings in this post! Personally I am terrible at memorizing but I think you have touched upon what has made this pandemic year of teaching a good year. We have all had to master new techniques, new strategies, new skills very quickly! People with strong tech skills jumped in and supported those who were more challenged. Those who always felt like they lagged their peers had to jump into that fray and banish the “I can’t”! Mastery was imperative and it had to happen fast and it had to happen with minimal support and we did it! And the sense of accomplishment is and should be a thrill for everyone. I wonder if educators recognize all they have done?


  2. I am amazed at people who have these trivia facts at their fingertips. I do believe it is a gift. Yet, if I consider t the studies on growth mindset is this something we can all learn? or something we haven’t been able to master – YET.
    I wonder if we share these ways of thinking with students would you find others who can memorize like you. Or would this be a great conversation starter to discuss ways we learn, and the variety of options that are out there.
    Just my early morning, coffee has hit, thought!


  3. I think by sharing this you . When we notice, name and value something we send an important message. Mastery of anything takes time, the willingness to make errors, revise and try again. I don’t think schools are set up to support this mindset. The thrill is in the time you put into it — that is the part I don’t think we value with all of the pacing/windows/and mapping. Much to think about …


    1. Yes! You’ve nailed it. I think that’s just it – we must value the time and honor the time that learning takes. Like the old saying “journey vs. destination”


  4. Your ability to memorize facts is impressive, and your story helped me understand why it is a joy for some people to memorize such things. It reminds me of the puzzles I like to do. Concentrating on the games takes me away from my worries and sets me into the present moment. Also, I feel a tinge of accomplishment when I figure out answers. It seems that identifying countries and statistics might be appealing in a similar way.

    I think that by sharing your joy of memorization with others and by making a game of it, you would inspire students to join in the fun.


  5. A love of trivia. States and capitals. Presidents. I’m wondering if and when kids need this. Google can fill in gaps.

    Maybe it’s really to follow a passion, to dig into a true love?

    Great post! THANKS!


    1. I agree. Not sure kids need this actual memorization either, at least in the prescriptive sense; I’d nurture it in a student who wanted to it. But the satisfaction of mastering a concept or accomplishing a task of our own choosing – we all need that! Feed curiosity! Thanks for reading Fran!


  6. Hey, Tim, this is about curiosity, I think, and the idea of grasping something when so much seems “floaty.” I read a cool post about the link between poetry and science, I think is was on Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings, and some author said facts can be their own poetry. I love that idea, and I think it’s true.


  7. I looked at your “about” page after reading today’s post and saw that you’re a professional third grader. Me, too! I’m in a temporary coaching position right now, but third grade is my thing.

    I love addressing the proverbial “bunch-o-facts” by helping my students tie all of them together into a coherent whole. It’s so cool to see them learn the big picture as well as being able to explain the details. It seems like you’ve got a real gift for the small things, but I’m willing to be you have a great way of bringing it all together for the students. Thanks for sharing this!


  8. It’s the challenge of knowing the answers, just like that. It’s strategizing and considering ways to work out data and rethink it. I understand that. Your musings are fun to read, especially as they wind their way back to these moments in time we’re finding ourselves in!

    Liked by 1 person

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