The Orality Centre has developed a number of workshops, suitable for all ages, to help you master a variety of memory methods and tools. Adapted from Dr Lynne Kelly’s research into the ancient memory systems used by cultures throughout history and around the globe.
This page details the main workshops we have on offer. All workshops begin with an introduction to oral based learning and a brief look at the neuroscience highlighting why these methods are so effective.
For bookings scroll down to the end of the page
Memory Palace workshop
Memory Palaces (also called the method of loci) are the single most effective memory system known which integrates directly with the biology of our mind. They are used by all indigenous cultures such as Australian Aboriginal Songlines and Native American pilgrimage trails. Memory Palaces consist of a sequence of locations in which information is stored by linking it to the physical properties of the location. They were famously used by the orators of Ancient Greece, from Homer to Cicero and are still used today by all contemporary memory champions. Participants in this workshop will learn how to form patterns of association between objects or environments and the knowledge intended for memorisation. Once this basic technique has been learnt participants will then be assisted in creating their own Memory Palaces for a familiar location; around their homes, place of work or in the school classroom. This system works particularly well with long lists of information such as memorising all the countries by population order, historical events, plant names, bird species or the elements of the periodic table.
Memory Boards workshop
Memory Boards are incredibly effective portable devices and found in various forms right across indigenous cultures, from the songboards and birchbark scrolls of Native Americans to the tjuringa of Australian Aboriginal elders. Our memory board workshop is modelled on the well-documented West African lukasa of the Luba people. In its simplest form, the lukasa consists of beads and shells attached to a piece of wood, just the right size for easy portability and comfortable to hold. Information is encoded to the carefully selected decorations which function like a miniaturised memory palace. In this workshop you will experience the many variations of how Memory Boards may be configured, from the traditional TOC lukasa to egg shaped design. You will then be guided to design, construct and encode information to your very own Memory Board. You may bring your chosen information with you or we also provide suitable examples for use.
Characters and story telling play a very important role in all memory systems. Indigenous cultures frequently use dramatic stories, songs and performances of spirit beings and ancestors to bring knowledge to life and make it more memorable. In this way stories have carried information across the ages, recording anything from lessons in morality, cultural customs, history and politics to environmental changes and celestial observations. The Orality Centre has explored customs like the use of Kachina dolls by Pueblo Native Americans to help catalogue vast amounts of ancestral knowledge. Rapscallions are our interpretation and experimentation into the power of characters as memory tools. In this workshop you will get to design and make your own Rapscallions as well as learn various ways these charming creatures can be used to strengthen memory.
Winter Count workshop
Winter Counts are a custom traditionally practiced by the Sioux Native Americans which involve documenting the historical events of a tribe by marking pictograms onto a large hide. Each pictogram denotes the most significant event to occur in a year and each year a new one is added, spiralling out from the centre. As winter arrives the storytelling begins and history is re-counted. In this workshop we focus on helping participants create their own personal Winter Count for each year of their life, using a small easily portable piece of canvas. The Orality Centre believes this memory tool could be one of the most effective at offsetting future age related memory problems. Familiar environments hold our memories together yet many sufferers of alzheimers or dementia are often required to leave their home and enter unfamiliar care facilities, leaving behind most of their possessions. A simple portable object depicting a persons most treasured memories could be a real life line. This workshop often involves a lot of reminiscing and sharing of life stories with plenty of cups of tea.
Visual Alphabet & Bestiaries workshop
We are generally all familiar with Visual alphabets as they are still greatly used with children when teaching how to distinguish each letter and their respective sounds (A = apple, B= ball etc), but when designed with memory in mind they can be used for so much more and people of any age can benefit. During medieval times visual alphabets and bestiaries were commonly used as a framework for memorising sequences of information. Dynamic characters often decorated the headings and borders on important texts so that even without the book these passages could be recalled easily and in their correct order. Visual alphabets can be useful for recalling speeches, verses from poems or songs, or simply remembering your shopping list, while bestiaries are particularly handy when trying to memorise peoples names, an area many struggle with. During this workshop you will be assisted in creating a strong interlinked visual alphabet that can be used for numerous applications and also get started on a bestiary to help prevent those awkward encounters when you’ve forgotten someones name. This workshop involves a lot of drawing but does not require great skills, it only needs a willingness to let your imagination run free.
If you are interested in booking a private group workshop with us please fill in your contact information below. Include your preferred dates and intended location in the comments section and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Alternatively you can message us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.