Module 3.3: Long-Term Memory

  • Who was your first teacher?  What was your first classroom like? What is you remotest childhood memory?  How long did it take you to retrieve those information?  What does that reveal about the nature of long-term memory?

My first teacher was Ms. Santos. She ran a preschool a stone’s throw away from our house. I still remember my first classroom. We had desks arranged in rows, with six desks per row (in groups of two). The desks had green tops, and the chairs were brown. There was a blackboard in front and on the left side. I’m not sure if there was a blackboard on the right side. There may have been windows instead. The door was in the back, on the right. The teacher’s table was front and center. It was brown. All of the furniture was wooden. These are my memories of my first classroom. I am not actually sure about all the details, except the locations of the blackboard, the teacher’s table and the door. We learned that memories, when recalled, are encoded by different neurons, and so the information might change slightly. Back at home, I have an album with pictures of the classroom, and I look forward to seeing the photos to see if I remembered correctly. I think my memory may have been reinforced from looking at the photos. Remembering the photo also facilitated my quick retrieval of the memory. I have vague memories of actually being in the classroom though.

My remotest childhood memory was when I was two years old and I was in a basement with my cousin. I retrieved this fairly quickly because I had been asked the same question as an adult. When I was first asked this question, I had no idea what I could answer. After thinking about it, I remembered the basement. Honestly though, I’m not sure if I remember actually being there, or if I recreated the memory since I’ve heard stories about my being there. The memory is vivid though, so I give it the benefit of the doubt.

In recalling these events, I understood the nature of memory more. In the module, we learned that long-term memory is stored and called to working memory when needed. The memory might also be different from the actual event, as I mentioned earlier. Important events and events wherein one was focused are easier to retrieve. I think that could be the reason why I was able to describe my first classroom better than my most remote memory. I spent two years in that classroom (thus I was very aware of the classroom), and going to school for the first time was significant for me.

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