Selective Forgetfulness

I can name sixteen uses for the Ablative, conjugate Spanish verbs (though I haven’t studied Spanish for years), recite much of Romeo and Juliet from memory, and remember the words to songs I learned years ago in camp. I think in outlines, organize all aspects of my life, keep tallies and inventories of my stuff.

I say all this not to prove that I am brilliant (I’m not), but to demonstrate a paradox. In spite of all this orderly thinking, I can’t remember what I had for lunch today or what I need to do tomorrow.

Memory may be limitless, but it’s also selective. A student can remember the words to dozens of songs, but not twenty vocabulary words; he can remember how to play video games, but not how to use commas.

Part of my problem is that I teach five different classes every day — not one class to five different groups of students. I have five sets of plans, quizzes, handouts, worksheets, and notes every day. I have folders upon folders, lists upon lists.

That part of my life is organized — out of necessity. When you go into the lion’s den every fifty minutes, you need to be prepared.

But getting the lions under control doesn’t leave me a lot of brain cells for other activities. More

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