Cognitive Daily

This morning I was having a conversation with Nora about her AP European history class, and it got me thinking about my own experience taking the same class about 25 years ago (yes, kids, they did have AP classes back then). Mainly it reminded me that I can’t remember much at all about the class. I remember lots of facts about European history, but I can’t track any of them specifically to that class. But it also made me wonder if I would have thought about that class at all if it hadn’t been for Nora taking the class now.

On the other hand, I seem to remember my other AP classes from high school better (in case you’re not familiar with the US high school curriculum, an AP class is a “college-level” class that’s taken during high school), even though Nora hasn’t taken any of those classes yet. So maybe some other factor is more important in determining what we remember from our childhood.

We might have an opportunity to find out with a Casual Friday study. We’ll ask if you can remember your teachers’ names from each grade in school, and then we’ll ask a few questions about yourself — whether you have kids, how old they are, and so on. If enough people respond, we may be able to suss out whether having kids helps or hinders memory.

Click here to participate

You should respond whether or not you have kids — we need all sorts of respondents in order to compare the results. The study has about 15 questions; it should take about 3-5 minutes to complete. You have until Thursday, November 20 to respond. There is no limit on the number of responses.

Don’t forget to return next week for the results!

Comments

  1. #1 Jordan
    November 14, 2008

    Your daughter’s named Nora(h) as well?

    It’s not a terribly common name – is it English or Arabic in origin?

  2. #2 Kevin
    November 14, 2008

    I tried to take the survey but it doesn’t allow for the blended families that are often the norm in modern American society. I am 50 years old and never had kids with my first wife. My current wife and I have legal custody of two of her grandkids. I have adult stepkids that I played no part in raising and am raising grandkids as if they were my own kids.

    Beyond that, I don’t have a particular school year that stands out as more or less enjoyable than others. I enjoyed being a ten year old. I enjoyed being a teenager. The experiences were entirely different. There is no way to rank them in some subjective order of enjoyment.

  3. #3 Dave Munger
    November 14, 2008

    Jordan: In our case, Nora is short for Eleanor. The name was inspired by Eleanor of Aquitaine, so I guess it’s French.

    Kevin: Sorry the survey doesn’t match well to your experiences. We do the best we can, but sometimes it just doesn’t fit.

  4. #4 Faith
    November 14, 2008

    The only question I had difficulty with was where I “grew up” – we moved partway through, which makes it difficult because the place I lived *first* (which I still consider home) was where we lived until I was almost nine. After that we lived in several houses within 20 miles of each other, so I spent the rest of my time at home around here. So, where did I grow up? *shrug*

  5. #5 Dave Munger
    November 14, 2008

    Faith: I was wondering about that — I figured it would be best to leave it open-ended, and let the respondents decide for themselves where they “grew up.”

  6. #6 AnnR
    November 14, 2008

    My money is on children enhancing your own memories.
    You re-live those years when your children hit them.

    Even if your experiences are very different you still bring them up as a reference.

    One thing I do think is that schools have gotten a lot more mickey mouse since I was a girl. My sons seemed to always be in hot water about something. When I was a girl they weren’t so particular.

  7. #7 Stentor
    November 14, 2008

    The “math teacher” bit made it easier for me — I had the same math teacher for three non-consecutive years.

  8. #8 gs
    November 15, 2008

    I commented to my boyfriend that I can remember most of my teachers very well but do not have the faintest idea who my 8th grade math teacher was. His immediate reaction was – that’s because you’re a girl. That’s why they picked math, girls will be less likely to remember their math teachers. Something to think about, especially if gender is confounded with any of your other variables.

  9. #9 delzoup
    November 15, 2008

    “That’s why they picked math, girls will be less likely to remember their math teachers.”

    What a horrible sentiment.

    Still, I don’t remember many of my math teachers in high school. I didn’t attribute this to being a girl, but because I didn’t like how that no matter how well students did on the tests, they would also grade on how well they kept a binder organized. I didn’t end up taking math all 4 years. However, my physics teacher was awesome. I remember his name.

  10. #10 Donna B.
    November 15, 2008

    This survey sucks for old people. I can only remember one teacher’s name out of 12 years. I had him for math for two years in a row and I despised him. He also lived just down the street from us. Maybe negative memories stick longer?

    I had teachers I admired and respected and spent a lot of time with – years of band and choir under the same teachers and multiple trips with them… and I can’t remember either name. Faces and good times, I remember well.

  11. #11 Luci
    November 15, 2008

    I remember the names of art, history, English and science teachers, but only one math teacher because I loved geometry. Attended K-12 in five different locations, so the social questions are not meaningful, as others have noted.
    Can recall easily specific books, topics and class activities from all grade levels, along with playground designs, cafeteria smells, civil defense variations, and each library in vivid detail.

    Shouldn’t that one question be modified to say graduated from high school, not graduated high school? My English teachers would correct me.

  12. #12 Tam
    November 15, 2008

    There were several math teachers I remember quite well but was unable to come up with the names of. Oh well.

  13. #13 TJ
    November 15, 2008

    I’m female and I loved math, but I can’t remember many of my math teacher’s names. For the most part, I can remember whether they were male or female, and for 7th grade I can remember where in the school the math classroom was (but not 8th, and those 2 grades were in the same school!), but I can’t remember their names. It’s not that much better for other subjects, though, so I doubt it’s some gender-linked math aversion. I can remember details about the physical spaces (like where the classrooms were placed in the halls) but not names. Weird.

  14. #14 Qalmlea
    November 15, 2008

    There ought to be an option for “liked all years of school equally”. I essentially picked a favorite at random and picked a “worst year” based on personal issues (two grandparents and an uncle dying in the same semester), but that had nothing to do with the school itself. But overall I liked all the school years themselves equally.

  15. #15 Kim
    November 16, 2008

    I forgot where I was in the survey when my small child woke up and demanded that I go into his room.

  16. #16 Renee
    November 16, 2008

    I’m 23, and I can only remember the names of my teachers from 1st grade, as well as 3rd & 5th (they had the same name). I mean, maybe if I thought really long and hard about it, I could. The sad thing is that my math teacher in 11th grade had a daughter in my grade, and we were in sports together. And I still can’t remember their name.

  17. #17 paul
    November 17, 2008

    Fun survey. I was surprised that I couldn’t remember a bunch of the names, although I could remember their faces AND I know I used at least one of their names in a conversation with a high school friend about 6 months ago. I know we talked about her and the name came without effort. I don’t know who mentioned her first. I expected that it would come to me when I hit submit, but it didn’t. I expect they all will bubble up from the subconscious throughout the day. I also noticed that while I blanked on some of the names, I could remember all but two of the faces, and I could remember all the rooms and could visualize how to get there.

    I do think that having kids restarts some of those dormant neurons, though. My daughter is only 18 months, and I’m starting to see things that trigger old memories that I had completely forgotten. For example, we came across the book “The Monster at the End of the Book” at the library, and I completely remembered how much I loved having my dad read it to me. I was probably somewhere between 3 and 5. My daughter is a bit young to get the humor, but I had to read it to her anyway.

  18. #18 tami
    November 19, 2008

    I’m female and have a master’s degree in math — so much for gender-specific math aversion. I still can’t remember most of my junior high or high school math teachers’ names. I think it’s because most of them were just terrible. I had one really outstanding math teacher in high school, but he quit about three weeks into the semester to go into software development. I remember his name, but none of the others. I didn’t count him in the survey because I was in his class for so short a time. It was a tragedy, because I went on to the AP Calculus class, which he was supposed to teach; he was replaced by a man who had only taught remedial math for so long that we knew more calculus going in than he did!

    I knew I loved the subject, though, so I pursued it in spite of those jokers, not because of them.

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