First, you get 30 seconds
to memorize 10 words in the right order.
After that, you get 30 seconds
to write down what you remembered.
And then finally, you get 30 seconds
to check your answers.
So, are you guys ready?
Well, we're going to start anyway.
memorize 10 words
in the right order in 30 seconds
in three, two, one, go!
Now write down what you remember.
OK, and stop.
Now quickly check your answers.
OK, and stop.
Very exciting; I heard
a lot of grunting and moaning.
So I hope I didn't stress
you out too much.
Now a moment of reflection.
I'd like you to ask yourself,
"How did I memorize this,
and was it the best way to do it?"
Now, for the generation
of my parents and grandparents,
being able to memorize something like this
was an absolutely essential skill.
But nowadays, why would anyone
want to remember a list of anything?
You just take a picture of the screen,
and you're done, right?
it seemed as if memorizing
has somehow become less important.
So why should we then,
in today's day and age,
still want to get better at memorizing?
Well, to answer that question,
I'd like to tell you a little story.
In high school, I flunked a grade, twice.
After seven years of torture,
I finally got my diploma.
Sweet, sweet freedom!
What would I do with it?
I didn't know.
One thing I did know, however,
was that I didn't want
to go back to school
because that old learning business,
it wasn't cut out for me.
So instead, I went
to sunny California for nine months,
and there I worked as a bagger,
not beggar - bagger.
So in a supermarket,
I had to put people's groceries in bags,
and then I'd get a little tip.
Surprisingly, that year I learned so much.
I learned how to bag a bunch
of groceries really, really quickly.
I learned how to drive a car.
And in California,
people are a little bit more open
than they are in Amsterdam.
So I also learned how to have
a little chat with a stranger,
just for the hell of it.
That year I discovered
that I don't hate learning,
just the specific way of doing it.
So I decided to go and study psychology.
Now for the first time ever,
I was getting information
that I absolutely wanted to know.
Now I was spending
more time in the library
than I spent skipping school
as a teenager, voluntarily.
The only problem was that I was
spending all of my time in the library
because I'd never learned how to learn.
So I started experimenting
with different methods of reading texts,
of memorizing texts,
and I got my reading time
of three hours per chapter down to one.
This way of studying
enabled me to do an honors program,
to get my degree,
and to fall in love with learning.
And now I happily work
for a company called Remind,
in which we teach people
the science and art of learning.
We're trying to bring back into education
what we ourselves missed.
Now for the past three years,
we've also organized
the Dutch National Memory Championships
for high schoolers.
We do this to show that everybody
is capable of amazing feats of memory,
but also to show that memorization
is about a lot more than just learning
your French or your Spanish words.
And today I'd also like
to share this with you.
So, in the beginning,
I made you do this little test,
just to make you aware
of how you're memorizing things right now.
Next, I'd like to give you
a new type of memory experience.
This time you can even sit back and relax.
So I'm going to ask you
to find a comfortable position to sit,
to close your eyes,
and to take a deep breath.
Now, I want you to think
of someone you know called John,
and I want you to see him.
Now, John just grabbed the sun
out of the sky,
and he just threw it on your feet.
And now your feet are getting
really big and red and swollen
because John just
threw the sun on your feet.
Now you look to your knees,
and on your knees, you see
10 little guys playing basketball -
very strange sight.
And on their shirts,
you can see in brightly
colored letters the "New York Knicks,"
so you have some Knicks on your knees.
Next, you look to where your thighs are,
but they're gone.
Your thighs have been replaced
with Fords, the cars.
They could be Ford Focuses
or Ford Mustangs.
Your thighs have been replaced with Fords.
Now, with your bottom,
you feel a hard plastic seat
of a go-kart vibrating.
With your bottom, you feel
the hard plastic seat of a go-kart.
Your belly starts rumbling very loudly.
So you follow your belly,
and it leads you to McDonald's,
and there Ronald McDonald
starts shooting rays of light at you
with a ray gun.
Ronald McDonald is shooting rays of light
at you with a ray gun.
He hits you on your chest,
and now from your chest,
a big bush of gray hairs is growing.
A huge bush of gray hair
is growing from your chest.
So obviously, you hurry home
to shave it off,
and on your doormat, you see a letter.
So you open it and it has good news.
As you read it, you feel a huge weight
falling off your shoulders.
A huge weight falling off your shoulders.
Your shoulders get all light and tingly
because you just paid all of your bills.
Big bills, little bills,
each and every bill has been paid for,
and you have plenty of money to spare.
Now you proceed to the bathroom,
because now on your neck,
a bunch of tiny bushes
of thin blonde hairs have appeared.
On your neck, a bunch of tiny bushes
of thin blonde hair.
As you look in the mirror,
suddenly your mouth
just starts talking all by itself,
and it's saying, "Yes, we can;
yes we can; yes we can."
Now you turn around,
and now suddenly your eyes are, ah,
because Donald Duck
just poked out both of your eyes
with a trumpet made of pure gold.
Now you can open your eyes again
and come back to this place.
Luckily, it's a lot safer here
than where you just came from.
So, I just made you guys memorize
the past 10 presidents
of the United States of America
in the right order.
Now I'm going to show you,
and then you can see
how many of these you still know.
So with each body part, I'm going
to ask you what happened there,
and then you could think of it.
Even better would be
if you just shout it out.
Now, what happened to your feet?
John threw the sun, yeah -
Now, what happened on your knees?
Knicks, yes - President Nixon.
OK. So what were your thighs
Fords - President Ford.
OK, and what did you feel
with your bottom?
OK, President Carter, yes.
Some people are ahead of the game.
Now, your belly led you to McDonald's;
OK. Ronald McDonald shooting rays of …
So Ronald Reagan.
He hits in your chest, and you got what?
Big bush of gray hairs - Bush senior.
Now, your shoulders got light, why?
Paid all your bills - Bill Clinton.
Now, what did you have on your neck?
OK, a bush of thin blonde hairs.
What was your mouth saying?
"Yes we can" - President Obama.
And what happened to your eyes?
Yeah, Donald Duck, trumpet, pure gold.
Who else but Donald Trump?
So, if you memorized more this time
than the first time, please stand up.
OK. So we have almost
everyone standing up;
Now, if you think this way of memorizing
is more fun than the last way you used,
please stand up or remain standing
if you're already standing.
Oh whoa, now we almost have everyone.
I'm very pleased to see this.
OK. You guys can sit back down.
Thank you very much.
Now, when you make
bizarre images to memorize,
suddenly it becomes a lot easier.
If you tie these bizarre images
to a place you know well,
like your body,
suddenly memorizing things in order
becomes a lot easier.
OK. Well, cool.
But I asked you guys in the beginning,
"Why should we, in today's day and age,
still want to get better
at this - at memorizing?"
Well, because by getting better
in a skill like this,
you can also get better
at a different skill:
the skill of experimentation.
By experimenting with different
methods of doing things,
I found out that I can
get better at anything.
I found out what works
for me and what doesn't.
What if I'd never learned
the skill of experimentation?
I may have never gone back to school;
I may have never enjoyed
and I probably would not
have been standing here today,
because one of the things I thought
I really couldn't do was public speaking.
Now, there are people of every generation
not doing things that they might love,
that they might even be great at
because they think they can't do it.
So how beautiful would it be
if in schools we can teach kids
that they can get better at anything,
and they can even get better
at getting better at things, get it?
But not just the kids,
because the older generation
is often seen as too old to learn.
But they're not too rusty.
Anyone can improve themselves
and I hope you experienced that today.
Now at Remind,
we break up this process
of experimentation into three steps:
the check, the experience
and the experiment.
The check is all about becoming aware
of what you're doing right now.
So maybe during the first test,
you became aware of the fact
that you just repeat
the words over and over
and that that doesn't work too well.
The second step:
the experience is all about being open
to new possibilities and trying them out.
So maybe during the visualization,
you realize that this works a bit better
or at least you like it more.
And the third step is the experiment.
This is about taking something
from that new experience that you had
and applying it in your own life
to see how it works for you.
So, maybe you're one of those people
that when someone
introduces themselves to you,
you just immediately forget their name.
Yeah, sound familiar?
And you want to use visualization
to do something about that.
So far I've only taken you guys
through the first two steps.
The final step is up to you.
So when I'm done here,
I'd like you to take a moment for yourself
and to write down an experiment
on the little card we've given you
and to put that
in your wallet as a reminder.
By continually following
these steps of experimentation,
you discover what you're doing;
you keep yourself open
to new possibilities,
and you allow yourself
to continually transform.
And regardless of what you're learning,
be it memorizing
or martial arts or mathematics,
you'll get better not only in the skill
that you're trying to develop,
but you'll get better
at the process of learning itself.
And that's something that sticks.
It's something you could take with you
to your new job, your new hobby,
your new relationship, your new whatever.
So this is something
absolutely everyone should know,
and I believe we should
teach it in schools.
But let's not just wait for it
to be implemented in schools.
I also believe that the most important
change starts with the individual.
It starts with you.
So, go out there and experiment.
Learn something new
or a new way of approaching something old
because there are few skills
as valuable as the art of learning.
Do you recall studying for your exams? You probably do. But do you remember how you studied, how you memorized French words or the year of the American civil war? Now, that’s probably harder. As a teenager, Ricardo Lieuw On was packing groceries when he knew what he wanted to study: he wanted to learn about learning. He picked up a study in psychology and learned how to reduce his learning time from 3 hours to 1 hour on the same piece of content. He gained the same knowledge in 200% less time. And specially for TEDxHaarlem, he shares the secret of his technique. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx