Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 3 (14)


Dominic O’Brien – The Latest Brain Research

An important non-Christian weighs in on this discussion from a totally different perspective. Dominic O’Brien has been the World Memory champion for many years and has written practical, interesting books on brain functionality and educational techniques. In his introduction to the book Learn to Remember, he also asks an interesting question.
In 1988 [at the age of 31, proving that adults can memorize as well as children], I was to witness an event that would change my life. I watched a man called Creighton Carvello memorize a randomly shuffled deck of playing cards in just under three minutes- a feat of memory which put his name in the record books. I was dumbstruck. How could anyone connect 52 unconnected pieces of data together, perfectly in sequence, using nothing but their brain, in such a short space of time?(1)
O’Brien then spent three months trying to learn to duplicate these efforts. He continues:
Soon after I was entering the record books myself by memorizing not one, but six randomly shuffled decks of playing cards from a single sighting of each card. While I was amazed and impressed by my own brain’s capacity, I felt at the same time immensely bitter that I had never been taught these same levels of mental agility when I was a student struggling with examinations. As a child, I was diagnosed as dyslexic. In addition, I was described as having an inability to concentrate on and remember what my teachers were saying. As a result, I did not shine academically, and I left school at sixteen… Even today, when we know comparatively so much about the brain and the processes of learning, children are not taught to learn effectively. Why? I have to confess that the answer to that question escapes me.(2)
But the answer shouldn’t escape Christians. Satan will do anything he can to keep our families from hiding God’s word in their hearts. He will fool us into thinking entertainment is an effective learning technique because it holds students’ interest more than diligent hard work. He’ll fool us into thinking it takes a lot of money rather than ‘just our brain,’ as O’Brien puts it, to learn.

The entire Old Testament is an admonition to memorize its entire contents so we’d be prepared to recognize who really brought us out of Egypt. What shame it should bring Christians when we see the TV news filming 12-year-old Muslim boys sitting in the dirt working to memorize the entire Koran.

Are we people of the Word or not?

In the academic curriculum developed for this thesis project, I’ve interwoven Dominic O’Brien’s brain training techniques. You would think a Christian would regularly be the World Memory Master because we are instructed to raise our children to memorize God’s Word.

Christians should habitually memorize large chapters at a time like Charles Spurgeon used to do. Few Sunday school leaders would think to require a class to memorize a chapter of Scripture, let alone a whole book. We’ve been tricked into thinking it’s “too much,” just as the Hebrews in Jeroboam’s time were deceived.

(1) Dominic O’Brien, Learn to Remember (London: Duncan Baird, 2001), 9.
(2) O’Brien, Learn to Remember, 10.

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved.

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