Why Forgetting Is Key To Remembering

Forgetting isn’t usually thought of in relation to learning, but as it turns out, it might play a role.

Herman Ebbinghaus, a German experimental psychologist from the late 19th and early 20th century, was (seemingly) curious about the way people remembered. (And thus forgot.)

What made our good man Herman unique though was in his method of study–or rather his focus group. That is, himself.

Among other projects, Dr. Ebbinghaus designed 2300 nonsense syllables–consonant-vowel-consonant patterns, arranged in lists to be memorized by the Doctor himself. This model continues in use in memory and neurological study today.

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Among Dr. Ebbinghaus’s ideas involved the role of curiosity and interest in the process of retention itself, explaining, “Sensorial perception, for example, certainly occurs with greater or less accuracy according to the degree of interest; it is constantly given other directions by the change of external stimuli and by ideas.”

He is also known for his ideas on the rate of forgetting, claiming that 90% of what is learned is forgotten by learners within 30 days–often within hours.

The infographic below reviews some of his ideas–how we remember–and how quickly we forget.
Memory Retention and the Forgetting Curve

This is a cross-post from Online Colleges

11 Comments
  1. Kathy Mairori says

    I usually don’t review things I’ve learnt so I liked how it explained that the more i review the stronger my memory of it will be

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