The Comfort of Repetition

October 28, 2014

This is definitely a case of different strokes for different folks but many people love the comfort of repetition whereas I get bored with it.

Did you ever notice that when you’re reading to a child from his favorite book, he can tell you what the next word is or what picture is supposed to be on that page? And heaven help you if you try to skip some of it to make it shorter, most kids won’t let you get away with it. I remember how when I was working with some very young kids, the key to their learning was repetition. It gave them a sense of accomplishment to be able to fill in the missing blanks when I stopped on a word or phrase.

The repetition of information in a song makes it easier for most of us to remember something which is why advertising companies make use of jingles to sell their products. I usually see children depending on songs, like the alphabet song, to remember the letters of the alphabet, whereas I usually see adults depend on the use of mnemonics to help them remember more difficult pieces of information. So, in the back of my mind, I equate repetition with children and mnemonics with adults.

But every once in a while, I come across an adult who learns the way children learn. One woman I knew, had a hard time trying to learn new information although she was very smart. Mnemonics didn’t help her; it was just more new information to be memorized rather than a device to make it easier to remember the new information.

I asked her once why she liked to do the same things every day, day in and day out. She told me that repetition gives her great comfort and that when she varies her daily routine, it throws her a curve and it upsets her for hours on end.

The irony is that most children need repetition to remember information, but they have a sense of adventure and like to do different things, whereas many adults can try mnemonics to remember new information but their sense of adventure is gone and they get into a rut and don’t want to try new things.

As I said, different strokes for different folks.

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