YMB #24 A New/Old Look at Memory Work: A Conversation with Kevin Vost

In this episode of Your Morning Basket we talk with Dr. Kevin Vost about the virtue of studiousness and the value of memorization. In this fascinating conversation, we are introduced to memory methods taught by church fathers that can help us today.

In the fast paced, information overloaded world we live in today we sometimes loose sight of the value of holding information in our own heads. Dr. Vost encourages us to work our memories because it is our past memories that guide our future behaviors.


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Hi everyone, and welcome to episode 24 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy you’re joining me here today. Well, I am so excited to bring you today’s guest. It is Dr. Kevin Vost. Now, Dr. Vost is the author of the book Memorize the Faith and in Memorize the Faith he lays out for us some ancient and medieval memory techniques that people have used for a very long time to memorize information. It’s really fascinating. The conversation we had focuses on memory, in general, and how it works but also these fun and different techniques you could use to help your kids memorize or even memorize things yourself. I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode of the podcast.

Kevin Vost holds a Doctorate in Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago and has taught both psychology and gerontology at the college level. He is the author of numerous books on subjects ranging from philosophy to apologetics and even physical fitness. And, he has a special research interest in memory and memory strategies. In his book Memorize the Faith Dr. Vost explains how to use the memory method taught by Thomas Aquinas more than seven centuries ago to memorize almost anything, including important truths of the church. He joins us on this episode to discuss how memory strategies can be applied in Morning Time. Dr. Vost, welcome to the program.

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Dr. Vost: Thanks for having me on, Pam.
Pam: Well, in an age where information can be accessed so quickly and easily why do you think it’s important to memorize?
Dr. Vost: That’s a great question. And there’s been a variation of that question around for actually over 2,000 years. If I could explain, in one of Plato’s dialogues, Socrates tells a story of a king of ancient Egypt, a person comes up to him and presents this new invention. And this new invention was the art of writing. And the king was concerned that if we had this ability to write things down our memories would deteriorate. We would lose our capacity to remember for memorization. Now, of course, that didn’t really happy so many years ago but now it’s like this question is back at us in a way like never before in our age where information can be accessed so quickly. Now, of course, we have the internet, we can get almost any kind of information almost instantly. Yes, so why would we want to still have this capacity to memorize? Now, I would argue that it is still very, very important to memorize because although the internet is a wonderful tool to get at information there can be a world of difference between information you could just access and knowledge that you actually possess within your own mind. If I could give a real extreme example here, just think, if you had to undergo a surgery, a medical surgery, now who would you rather have operated on- the world’s greatest IT expert who can look up any medical information in a fraction of a second or maybe a trained medical surgeon who doesn’t know everything about medicine but he has a lot of that knowledge inside his own head. So, I would say in our time there’s a big difference between being able to get at information and actually knowing it. When you actually know it, it builds your knowledge base in that we learn and understand new things based partly on what we’ve already learned, what’s familiar to us, and if you train your memory and you grow your knowledge base it becomes much more easy to pick up new information and to learn it deeply and to hold onto it. So for the things that are really most important in your life it is important to actually have the capacity to memorize.
Pam: Oh, that’s such a great answer. The analogy you give there really drives it home. Well, do you think there’s virtue in the practice of memorization?
Dr. Vost: Yes, and I’ll say in two ways. The topic we just talked about, in our information age. One of the great blessings is that we can access so much vital information – the internet searches are a God-send to me, but also we become at risk at being overly distracted. Our attention is just pulled this way and that way, all the links and all the information out there, so there’s an ancient distinction in terms of virtue and vice that Saint Thomas Aquinas talked about. He talked about a vice of curiosity which meant being distracted and focusing on things that don’t matter versus a virtue of studiousness, being able to focus over time on the things that truly matter. So training ourselves to memorize really does help that virtue of studiousness but there’s also another link there that Saint Thomas and Saint Albert the Great, his teacher, wrote about. When they wrote about the practice of memorization, how to improve your memory, they did it in the context of describing the virtue of prudence or practical wisdom, because they said to achieve virtuous goals in the future we’re going to act now in the present guided by the lessons we’ve learned in the past. So they said in some ways memory is the most important aspect of practical wisdom because our past memories guide our future behaviors and not vice-versa. So I’d say there are very important links in the memory capacity between that virtue of being studious and also prudence- practical wisdom.
Pam: Oh wow. That’s really good, how the memories that we have drive what we will do in the future. I’ve never thought about it like that.
Dr. Vost: It’s right, but we learned about our faith, the experiences that we’ve had over our lifetime those help guide how we’re going to act in the future.
Pam: How did you first become interested in memory?
Dr. Vost: It’s interesting, it was supposedly by chance. I just went to our local Lincoln Library’s annual book sale where they sell books that people don’t read anymore. And I invested about a quarter in this slim little book on memorization. It is the best investment that I ever made! This thin little book gave some basic memory techniques how I can use these practice techniques. It didn’t really give the history or background, it just said, “Here, here’s how these work. Here’s how you can use them.” And I did it. I used it, I discovered this in my late teens. It made the rest of my schooling for my college degrees, bachelor’s, master’s, my psychology license; it made it almost a piece of cake when it came to terms of memorization because I found these were so useful for me that when I did my own master’s thesis in psychology I decided I would do that on the actual scientific research on how our children’s memories aided when they’re taught specialized memory techniques. And then later my doctoral work was at Alzheimer’s center and I worked with people of various kinds of brain damage and we studied memory; how it’s lost to Alzheimer’s disease, what happens to memory through the process of normal aging, through our research on volunteers including sisters of several religious orders. Also, I had the opportunity to work with some patients with brain damage and how to teach them these memory techniques and in certain instances we had really some impressive results. So, since I was in my late teens (what’s that now, over 30-35 years or more) I’ve been really involved in these memory techniques in one way or another.
Pam: So you would be the perfect person to tell us in layman’s terms exactly how memory works?
Dr. Vost: In memory it’s a very grand thing. There are different kinds of memory. We make a visual memory versus verbal memory, short term, long term, and so forth, but to break it down to the basics; we often distinguish between short term memory and long term memory. Short term memory is also sometimes called working memory. It’s basically, what can you hold in your focused awareness at one point in time? And the value that’s usually given is 7 +/- 2 (we can usually hold right on to about seven pieces of information and some of us with a little bit better memories may go up to around nine or so, some of us with a little bit weaker memories may be more like five). And some of the research on this was actually the basis for the creation of telephone numbers in the 1950’s. Most numbers, not including the area code have seven digits because most people can hold that; hear that one time, if they really focus, they can hold that. So our memory starts with this, sort of, a filter, this short term memory, a working memory, but it holds about seven things maybe at once. But the things that we focus on, the things that are important, or that we repeat to ourselves, may then move into the stores of long term memory which for practical purposes almost limitless; what we think about through our lives all the amazing number of things that we can remember. So if we’ve taken the time, used the focus to move things into that long term memory, it’s almost limitless. And as an aside, typically, with Dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, the brain structures that are involved in moving that information from the short term memory to the long term memory tend to be the ones that are damaged most. That’s why they have these problems retaining new information, memories of new things that happened to them, though they may be able to tell you things that happened to them long, long ago, earlier on in their lives.
Pam: Oh, that’s so interesting that that’s where everything breaks down in people who are suffering from those afflictions.
Dr. Vost: Brain structures, the hippocampus and the temporal lobe on the sides of the brain seems very crucial in forming these new memories. But once we have those long term memories they seem to be more dispersed throughout the brain in a much more resilient and much less likely to be lost.
Pam: Interesting.
You told us that the capacity of human memory, the long term memory, is pretty much limitless. So, how much of memorization is discipline and how much is natural ability?
Dr. Vost: That’s a great distinction. The early people who wrote about these memory techniques, ancient Greeks and Romans, often distinguished between what they call natural memory and artificial memory. Natural memory is just how we remember things by nature, artificial is [**inaudible 9:58**] art or specialized techniques. And some people will, by nature, have very good memories with some stronger than others but with these artificial techniques we can greatly expand our capacity. When I used to teach college courses one little example I would do for my students would be in a couple of minutes I would memorize a 50-digit number for them and that they would generate. In fact, we all would try to do this. But I would memorize a 50-digit number and then also give it back to them backwards, and they could call out any number between 1 and 50 and say “38” and I would tell them what that number is because when you use these artificial memory techniques, you’re using your reasoning abilities to exceed the limits of normal natural memory, but being blessed as human beings with intellectual souls with the ability to reason, we can greatly enhance even our memory abilities. I will say one other thing on this regards I find it very interesting. At times they’ve done research on people who have naturally very powerful memories comparing them to people who have trained their memories and advanced specialized techniques and typically the people with more normal memories who have been trained in the techniques do outperform the people with naturally powerful memories.
Pam: Oh, that is interesting. So, you’re saying that you’re using reasoning skills to improve your memory technique and I know that one of the tensions, sometimes in the educational world, is we shouldn’t spend all of our time memorizing we should spend our time doing critical thinking or reasoning. But, really you’re saying that you’re strengthening both when you’re using these memory techniques because you’re using these reasoning skills to remember more.
Dr. Vost: Yes, there was a Russian developmental psychologist (I’m going to sum this up in a [**inaudible 11:36**] way, he said that for the young child to think is to remember. When you ask an opinion they’re going to regurgitate what they’ve learned from someone older, but for the adolescent to remember is to think. By the time we reach our teenage years we have those abilities, we can harness our own abilities and remember and think better. Yes, by using those reasoning skills. I will say, sometimes a memory has gotten a wrap, and it may be deservedly so, but when we stick to what’s called a rote memorization where you can just parrot back words without comprehending the meaning behind them, so these techniques are not there, that’s not what they are, you’re memorizing key words so then you can ponder them and think deeply about important meanings.
Pam: And we’re going to talk a little bit more about that, but first, what I want you to do is can you describe for the audience the method for memorizing that you talk about in Memorize the Faith? What are the historical roots of this and how does it work?
Dr. Vost: Sure. I’ve also found this fascinating. Discovered by the ancient Greeks around the 5th century BC by this orator named Symonette, it was passed on to the west through the writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero, a great Roman who lived in the time of Julius Caesar, had a history being used by public speakers. I just mentioned today using myself as public speaking it allows you to memorize the key points in any talk you want to make, and to have them in their exact order. So we have these methods that we use for public speaking that were based on the use of visual imagery. Things that we can see, particularly if they’re in a certain arrangement or even just imagine that we’ve seen in a particular arrangement are much more memorable. So the technique is often called the method of loci or locations where you build this imaginary system like a memory house within your head, and then anything you want to remember you convert into images. Maybe I’ll give you a demo in just a minute to show how that’s done. But I will say that Saint Thomas Aquinas actually played a big role in the history of these techniques in the 13th century. And right smack dab in the middle of The Summa Theologiæ he actually talks about these techniques. He says there are four main things that a person does to perfect their memory. In two of these we already know. If you really want to remember something you’re going to repeat it, you know, rehearse it. Also, you’re going to focus or pay attention. But these two additional elements to this memory technique are we create an image, something we can picture, even if the information that we’re trying to remember is something spiritual or abstract and then also we have an ordering or organization system. And that’s what we do in the memory mansion, the memory house that I use in the book Memorize the Faith.
Pam: OK, and so could you walk us through a brief or simple example of this, step by step, of how this would work?
Dr. Vost: Sure. I’ll give you something brief here and we’ll see if we have time to elaborate. So, we’re actually going to demonstrate this method. First, I’m not going to tell the listeners what it is that we’re memorizing but maybe they can figure it out. So, I want you to imagine you’re visiting me in central Illinois, you’re coming to my house, it’s a ranch house surrounded by mature maples and oaks. You knock on my front door (that’s location number one, the first location). The door opens and you are blinded by this blinding light and you hear this horrible resounding crash. OK, so do we have that? Number one, the front door opens, this brilliant light, we hear a crash. Now, number two, we take a step inside my house on the doormat, and this is the most unusual doormat you have ever come across, because it’s actually speaking to you. Not only is it speaking but it’s cursing, it’s cussing. So much that you, kind of, put your feet over its mouth to muffle it, but how strange? You have this cursing doormat in the second location. Now, I’ll go through five locations. The third- you are imagining that you’re still standing there in my entranceway. Now, you look out this glass panel next to the front door and you see out into my front yard. And you say, “Wow, that is just like the most beautiful day I’ve ever seen out there.” So, just imagine the scene of this glorious day out in this front yard. OK, two more. You’re back in the foyer. On the wall next to that front door is a portrait there. And you’re shocked to see within my house it’s a portrait of your own parents. Imagine that, your parents. What’s Dr. Vost doing with these in his house but there they are; fourth location, a portrait of your parents. We’ll do just one more. The fifth location, now you’re still in the foyer and on another adjoining wall is a gun rack and the gun rack has a giant padlock on it. So there’s our fifth image- the gun rack with a padlock. Now, these memory methods are designed to help you learn things in order, literally backwards and forwards. And if we were called it repetition is also a key component, in fact, it’s also called the mother of memory. Let me go one more time in reverse real quick. That fifth location was the padlock gun rack on the wall. The fourth location on the wall next to the door was a portrait of your own parents. The third location was our view through the glass panel out in the front yard, the most glorious day we’ve ever seen. The second location was that strange image of that doormat that was cursing, and the first location was the front door when you open it you saw this great light and heard this resounding crash. So what was all that? When I was young my mom used to say something unusual or outlandish she’d say, “Now, what did that have to do with the price of beans?” because we live in soybean/corn country here. So, it’s a fair enough question- what do we really memorize in that simple little example? Well, what’s our first image? The front door, the great light, the crash - that’s just a simple reminder for the first commandment - to honor God alone and that bright light is going to be our symbol for the great and likeness of God. That crash we threw in was the fall of strange gods, false idols. OK, so that first silly image was just your reminder of the first commandment. I think listeners will find the second one even more direct. The cursing doormat, it’s cursing. The simple reminder that the second commandment, not to use the Lord’s name in vain. Now we see all these have the simple connections like this. We’re taking something profound and using a striking image to remember it. The third location was the scene out the front door, the glorious day; pretty straight forward reminder to honor the Lord’s Day, the Sabbath Day. The fourth would maybe be the easiest of them all, the portrait of your own parents was there at the fourth location to remind us of the fourth commandment which is to honor our fathers and mothers. And finally, that fifth location, probably another fairly easy one- we had the gun rack with a huge padlock on it to remind us of the fifth commandment which is, of course, thou shalt not kill. So in a system like that, in the first chapter of Memorize the Faith I go through 10 locations in that foyer. In the five more spots each one with a very simple reminder of what these commandments are. They can be so simple, for example, that the image for the seventh commandment, thou shalt not steal, is up on a chandelier. We just imagine that it’s made out of solid steel. So, just a sound alike word even is enough to trigger the meaning. So, that’s one simple example of how we could use this easy technique to memorize something as important as The Ten Commandments and to know them in order literally backwards and forwards after just a few minutes.
Pam: Right, because once you have those visual images in your mind you simply walk back through the room in reverse order and you’re able to say them backwards as well.
Dr. Vost: That’s right. So anything that’s really worth remembering, by doing them backwards, it’s an advanced form of rehearsal, so you really, really know them well. I’ve even had times to prepare for mission with the main goal of helping all the students there, the young children, to learn The Ten Commandments, and it’s usually pretty effective. I’ll say if I do these demonstrations I’ll see hands raised up in the audience from young children who show that after we’ve done this full demo that they can do it. So almost everyone has the capacity to do this if they put their mind to it.
Pam: Alright. Then when you’re talking about repetition, you’re actually talking about repetition of the technique not necessarily repeating The Ten Commandments to yourself over and over again but repeating walking through that room and pulling up those visual images again and again, that’s the kind of repetition, right?
Dr. Vost: That’s right. You’d practice that but then each time that image is going to trigger what it actually means.
Pam: OK.
Dr. Vost: So if you’re out somewhere thinking about The Ten Commandments, if you can do that memory tour, you know The Ten Commandments themselves also. But yes, the more fluent you are with practicing, the more instant it will become. For The Ten Commandments and for anything else because those locations, the front door, the doormat, and so on, become like a mental notepad, that once you know those well you can use them again and again and again for different sets of information. You could even use them for things like your grocery list. You open your front door and you’re hit on the head by a giant banana or something and you go your way through there, but things that are not important (you don’t need the same grocery list next week) you won’t repeat therefore you’ll lose those but the location system itself you’ll keep and things that are important, for example The Ten Commandments, again and again you’ll keep them over long periods of time.
Pam: So let me ask you a couple of practical questions about the technique. You’re using the location of your house and you actually use it throughout the entire book, you use several different rooms but you use the same location a number of times to store different bits of information, does the material ever get jumbled up?
Dr. Vost: It can. There are different kinds of memory interference, proactive and retroactive are things you’ve learned before make it harder to learn new material and vice-versa, so it’s possible the more practice you do the easier it is to keep them separate. Also, once you thoroughly learn something, they kind of hang together. The images trigger each other. Just for a real quick example: those same first five locations that we used for The Ten Commandments, later in the book I imagine the front door opens and there’s your friend, Jennifer and her sister, because we’re talking about Genesis. That doormat there says Exit on it to remind us of Exodus. Out in the front yard you see this giant pair of Levi jeans for Leviticus. So we use the same locations with different images so once you thoroughly learn those chains and how they go together; other example like giving the books of the Old Testament. It tends to be less confusing that you might think. But again, repetition is the mother of memory and practice makes perfect. The more your practice these techniques, the more fluent you’ll become and less likely you are to become confused by it.
Pam: So what about coming up with a mental image for something that might not lend itself easily to this visual depiction? Now, you’ve already given me some really interesting examples because you just said Levis for Leviticus but has there ever been a piece of information where it’s been really difficult to come up with an image to go with it?
Dr. Vost: That’s a great question. I know in some of the ancient literature it criticizes this. So one of the ancient authors says you can’t form images for things like conjunctions like four. Well, sure you can. You picture a golfer saying, “Four!” And that will remind you of that different word four for a conjunction. But some things are hard. I remember going through Memorize the Faith there was one of the sins against the Holy Spirit was final impenitence or unwilling to be pennated, to ask for God’s forgiveness at the end of our life. How am I going to get an image for final impenitence? Now, I ended up with something that was a little bit strange; it was a funnel, ants and pins are coming through that funnel. So, funnel in, pins and ants, final impenitence. And it ended up the illustrator chose that as one of the images, out of the hundreds of images, to illustrate because sometimes the ones that take more work and are more strange actually because of that extra effort become more memorable. So there’s almost nothing that cannot be converted into a memory.
Pam: So, you’re working off similar sounding words. It doesn’t have to be a direct one-to-one correlation. Like that steel chandelier – the commandment’s ‘thou shalt not steal’ but we’re using a different version of the word to trigger that memory of it.
Dr. Vost: That’s right. And the person using these techniques, as you become proficient, when I do the book I use the things that pop into my own head but other people may have their own unique associations that are even more effective. So, for one example, when I cover the seven deadly sins, with the sin of pride (you’re in my memory house and I say, We’ll imagine there’s a statue of me in my living room of myself. My wife certainly wouldn’t tolerate that but if it was there I’d be pretty prideful, right? So that could be a reminder for pride, but you could also imagine there’s a pride of lions or if you know the singer, Charlie Pride, or if you have some unique thing that reminds you of pride you put there, too. Because it doesn’t matter about the image itself as long as it serves as the trigger for the actual content of what you’re trying to memorize.
Pam: You’ve talked about using this a lot with lists of information or bodies of information.
Dr. Vost: Yes.
Pam: You’ve also mentioned that you could use it as a public speaker. Have you ever used it for something like a poem or a piece of Shakespeare or something of that nature where, poetry lends itself well to memorization through repetition of the verbal aspects because it has rhythm, it has rhymes, things of that nature, but could you use this for a poem or Shakespeare?
Dr. Vost: Yes, you can. Now, interestingly, too, this has quite ancient history. The ancients used to distinguish with what they called memory for words and memory for things. And the things were like these ideas, concepts, commandments and so forth where the words would be verbatim memorization. And it would be cumbersome to do this with every word in a passage but for certain words, certain key words you can line them up in the order they appear in the poem and it can help a person who is having some problems memorizing. So my own recommendation would be do it the old fashioned way, make sure you know the exact words, but if you find it’s not working well, if you find you’re getting stuck, then pull out these locations and set some of these key words there in key locations to help you remember what comes next. So they’re very, very adaptable. But again, my own methods, like for public speaking, I would not recommend memorizing the entire talk this way. You could possibly get lost, get tongue-tied, it might sound artificial. What the public speakers do is lay out their key points. I do this myself. If I go do a new talk I may have 20 or 30 or 40 things I want to make sure to talk about in a certain order so I’ll lay out those key points in these locations so I could almost literally deliver that talk backward but I don’t want to have all the words, so I’m free to speak naturally and spontaneously. So there’s another use there on public speaking. I’ll also say, too, it can also be used for information, for things that weren’t like in a system. To give a real simple example when I used to teach psychology of adolescents, when I talked the biology of puberty I used to use a very simple mamonic to start our memory start. I had the class picture a huge hypodermic needle and then an bottomless pit and then an adding machine; so, hypodermic needle, and a bottomless pit, and an adding machine, and I would put them in the location and then what they’d find out later is they just memorized the components of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis because the hypodermic needle stood for the hypothalamis within the brain, the bottomless pit stood for the pituitary gland and the adding machine stood for the adrenal glands, so we can also use these methods to learn things that operate in the system in fields like biology and other fields.
Pam: Oh, that’s interesting. Now, some people might raise an objection that the mental images used in this technique are not necessarily connected to the meaning and they might even be considered silly or bizarre. How do you answer that objection? Are you advocating memorization without understanding?
Dr. Vost: Absolutely not. And that objection does come up and it has through the history of these methods, but there’s a strong history there saying why do they need to be that way? When Saint Thomas writes about the image he sees as the word mirahma [??spelling 27:30??] or things that are marvelous that marvel or unusual because we are inundated with so much information every day the things are more routine, slip go in one ear and out the other, it’s the things that are unusual and striking that stick with us. So these memory images do focus on that there because they’re unusual, they tend to be exaggerated or humorous or surprising, those do become more memorable. And also, these memory tricks kind of relate to a story. You’re going through a tour, you’re walking through this house, you’re remembering these things, so you’re taking information that’s kind of rote information and turning it into experiential information, like something that you’ve actually lived through. And that also makes it more memorable. Now, the images themselves don’t have to convey the meaning but when we set them up we want to make sure we do know the meanings and if they can trigger them for us in order. So, if you’re sitting somewhere where you don’t have access to other information with your head recall these images and then start thinking deeply about the things that they represent. And then another thing I say is when people are afraid that somehow contrary to understanding, four of the greatest exponents, the champions of these techniques and four of the most brilliant people in history, including Aristotle, the father of logic, Cicero the great Roman orator and ponscil, St. Albert, the great, the patron saint of scientist wrote explicitly and extensively about these techniques, and also St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of [**inaudible** 28:56].
Pam: So, you’re not advocating that we use these techniques or teach these techniques to our children as a parlor trick but instead that they are able to internalize and carry this information in their heads so they can pull it out on a rainy day, flip through it mentally, and actually contemplate on the truths that are held there.
Dr. Vost: That’s exactly the idea. And we also, through the book, we try to develop, what’s called meta-memory, which is a more, greater awareness of memory. And one of the components of meta-memory can be when do I need to use these techniques and when don’t I? So these could just be one other arrow in your quiver of techniques. You’re not necessarily going to use them all the time. Sometimes your natural memory will be totally adequate, but for certain things where you’re having a difficulty or you have a vast amount of information and you need to know this, very deeply and well, backwards and forwards, then to have access to these techniques can make a really huge difference.
Pam: An example of that would be that you know the Nicene Creed because you repeat it each week in church so that’s not something you’re going to need to use this particular technique on, that comes from the verbal repetition as part of your life, as part of the liturgy.
Dr. Vost: That’s right. These techniques can supplement that; if you’re first learning it. But that’s not the primary goal. It’s for things like information like I gave in Memorize the Faith, which would be things like The Ten Commandments, the order of all the books in the Bible, the Rosary mystery, the names of the Virtues and Deadly Sins, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Things like that. I later wrote a book called Memorize the Reasons for Catholic Answers that uses this technique for apologetics, like for fundamental Catholic beliefs. Where do they come from? Where do we get this idea out of the Bible that there’s something special about Peter and the Pope. So where does that come from the Bible, which church fathers talked about this? These memory techniques can be used for that kind of thing. The last memory book I wrote was called Memorize the Mass and it applies these techniques to the parts and the rights and the order of the Mass so we can know the Mass better. And I’ll just say that I wrote that book because I received a very fascinating email: an air force pilot emailed me asking how to memorize the parts of the Mass, when he heard the story of Admiral Jeremiah Denton who was a POW in Vietnam for more than seven years in the 60’s and early 70’s and he said part of the way he survived years of isolation and torture was that he went through the Mass in his head every day. It stabilized him. I later learned there was a Maryknoll Bishop James Walsh who also mentally repeated the Mass and the Rosary when he was held captive by communists. So, just this idea that so much of what we might not think of to really deeply memorize, like the very structure of a Mass, can be a wonderful thing that can lead us into a deeper love and appreciation for it whether or not we ever find ourselves confined by communists.
Pam: There’s a homeschooling mom, her name is Cindy Rollins, and she started this Morning Time movement and one of the things that she likes to say is she had her kids memorize these poems and these great works because she wanted them to have something in their head for when they were imprisoned and the rats were eating their toes.
Dr. Vost: Oh wow. There’s a history there. Absolutely.
Pam: So they would have something in there to call upon for strength. So you’re saying exactly the same thing.
Your book focuses mainly on applying the memory mansion technique to church teachings. Then you mentioned earlier biology. So we could use this for any kind of academic information we want to learn, too, correct?
Dr. Vost: Absolutely. I’ll give you one real-life example. There was a priest a few years ago who demonstrated to the parishioners that he named off all of our presidents in order. He read Memorize the Faith and used that technique for the U.S. presidents and people started clapping and he said, “Hold on. You aint seen nothing yet.” And he called up this 11 year old boy who then recited the names of all the 265 (at that time) Popes in order because he had used this technique. He had called me and worked with me and we elaborated these memory rooms to incorporate that much information. So it can be used for almost anything and by people of a vast range of ages. This boy who memorized the Popes was 10 years old when he first contacted me and was 11 years old a few months later when he did that. But basically, it can be used for almost any information. Myself years ago when I studied for the psychology licensure exam I used it to memorize the things like the nine symptoms that characterized major depression. I’ve had other people tell me that they used it for them to help them memorize key things for the GRE (the Graduate Record Exams), the BAR exams for lawyers who have contacted me. Some of the research on these methods were also used in learning foreign language vocabulary. It’s going to be very powerful when you form these images that sound like the new word you want to remember but can also convey the meaning. So for almost anything you have to memorize there’s probably a way to adapt these techniques.
Pam: I want to stop you right there. So could you give me an example of whatever foreign language that you’re most proficient in, whether that be Latin or Spanish or Italian, or whatever, could you give me an example of a vocabulary word and how you would do that?
Dr. Vost: Sure, I’ll give you a real simple one from French. The French word for book being livre. So for the image, if you’re trying to remember that – what’s the French word for book? It’s livre. OK, imagine out in your front yard, picture an actual tree you have there somewhere in your hard, but then instead of normal leaves, it’s growing books, it’s just covered with these books that are growing up in the branches. So if you have that image of a tree and it’s got the leaves there and the leaves remind you of the French word livre, but instead of leaves you see books, now you also have the meaning. So you have that connection - the sound of leaves for livre and the images of the books for what it actually means. And you can do that for virtually any vocabulary word in any language.
Pam: OK, good. Interesting. But I do want to point out to everybody that would not be done in isolation. You would not just imagine a tree with leaves, it would be done as part of this memory palace location that we talked about earlier. So maybe as we’re memorizing our French vocabulary when we get to the third step in our doorway we turn and look out that glass pane window and we see that tree with the leaves.
Dr. Vost: Yes, yes. Just a few months ago a co-worker had a 2nd grader who had to learn 40 new vocabulary words. And for young kids new vocabulary words are almost like a foreign language. They don’t know them yet, and she just went through their own apartment and set these locations and created these images for every word and her son memorized all 40. The teacher said it was the first time anyone ever did this on the first try. So, they can be used, they can be powerful tools if you take the time to master the technique and use them as a whole. There really are a variety of these memory techniques, and sometimes they can be combined and used together. For example, I mentioned memorizing 50 digit numbers, and by doing that I use a memory code that turns those numbers into consonant sounds so I then build words out of those random digits. So when I memorize 50 digits I really memorize 25 simple words that I then place on those locations which I know better than the back of my hand. So there are many ways that if we know these different memory techniques they can really transform any task of memory making it far easier.
Pam: OK, so could it be used for math facts because, you know, I’ve got some kids that age?
Dr. Vost: Yes, for certain things that can be a little more challenging in a particular adaptations so that math itself is not something I’ve done great adaptations for, more like memorizing numbers themselves for various reasons if we have to know phone numbers and things like that, but with a little adaptation it sure could be. I know one man who reviewed my book said that it was very helpful to him in learning new pieces on the trumpet. So there’s also been these techniques that have been adapted to learning music. So again, it can apply to almost anything.
Pam: Oh, that’s interesting. You mentioned using it a couple of different times with children. So most of my listeners are homeschoolers, almost exclusively, and we would be using it with children. Is there anything special to keep in mind if you’re trying to introduce this method with younger kids?
Dr. Vost: That’s a great question. My master thesis research that looked at all the research on this, my conclusion was that almost the ideal time to do this is about 5th or 6th grade, 10 or 11 years of age, as the kids are developing those reasoning abilities where they can do this but they’re not likely to be older and grow more skeptical, they’re going to be more open to it. So, usually that age the kids can master these techniques, but I will say some studies show, for example, 2nd graders trained in these techniques were able to outperform 5th graders who weren’t but for the younger of the child the more you need external concrete aids. For example, we’re doing all this through sound. The book itself is illustrated so you would see pictures of these rooms. Also, some of the images are illustrated. So basically the younger the child the more structure you give them. You show them actual pictures or allow them to draw pictures. And the older the child becomes the more they’re going to be able to do this entirely within their own heads. And for me, like I said, it seems that the primo age, the choice age was maybe around 10 or 11/12 years or so.
Pam: So it is kind of like with almost anything, back to the math example again, the younger the child the more concrete it needs to be and the older they get the more abstract you can make it.
Dr. Vost: Exactly. When psychologists like Jean Piaget talked about the different reasoning abilities that develop with age, he’s a higher stage of formal operations typically start around age 11 or so. So it illustrates again that these memory techniques really are reasoning techniques because you have to have that reasoning capacity to really be able to fully utilize them.
Pam: So, in teaching a younger child, say a 1st or 2nd grader the technique, would it be helpful to actually walk through your house?
Dr. Vost: Yes! Exactly, you’ve got it there. You make it more concrete, you actually walk through the house so that they can see the front door, they have that concrete experiential memory, so the more concrete the better. Something else to keep in mind with younger kids, and I’ve talked about 7 +/- 2 for how many pieces of information that we can hold at one time. We tend to hit that 7 around 12 or 13, the early teens so younger kids can’t hold as much as once. So, you also want to not overload them and do fewer items the younger the child is, fewer items at one time.
Pam: So break that Ten Commandments up into five and five and internalize the first five through repetition for a few days and then when you think they have that then move on and add the second five?
Dr. Vost: Yes, that’s right. And then by the time a person is an adult, it’s amazing. I saw one reviewer said in two 45 minute sessions here was able to memorize all the books in both the Old and New Testament using these techniques. So, the more practice we are and our brains are fully mature, we can really go to town with these but for people, though who to learn these techniques when they are children I think it’s intriguing to think what they might be able to perform if they use these throughout their lives. Like, myself, I found these techniques in my late teens and I have found them very, very beneficial throughout my life.
Pam: So the more you use them the better you get at them.
Dr. Vost: Yes, exactly. It’s like in our faith we know that grace perfects nature with the use of these techniques practice perfects nature.
Pam: Awesome. Well, this has been absolutely fascinating and I just want to remind everybody that the book is Memorize the Faith and that’s the first one. There’s a couple more after that. And do you have somewhere that people can find you online?
Dr. Vost: Sure. My own website is DrVost.com. My books are all shown there, I don’t sell them myself but I link to sellers. And there is also a comment box if people like to comment or ask me a question they can feel free to contact me through that. So, DrVost.com.
Pam: Alright, well thank you so much for joining me here today. This was absolutely fascinating. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Vost: Well thanks. The questions were great and it was really my pleasure, Pam, thank you.
Pam: And there you have it. Now, if you would like information on any of the resources or books that Dr. Vost and I talked about today including his own books, you can find links to those in the Show Notes for this episode. And those are at PamBarnhill.com/YMB24. The Basket Bonus for today’s episode is a memory work tracker for you and your family. We have this lovely printable Your Morning Basket memory work tracker that you can print out and slip right into your Morning Time Binder to keep track of all of the things that you’ve memorized. We will be back again in another couple of weeks with another fun interview. Until then, keep seeking Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Memorization in Morning Time

  • Mobile technology and the internet make massive amounts of information readily available to us at any time. There is a difference, however, between the knowledge we can access and the knowledge we actually possess. Ancient and medieval thinkers placed a high value on memorization as a way to grow in both knowledge and virtue.
  • When we train our memories, we build our knowledge base and make it easier to assimilate new information and ideas. By memorizing, we are able to learn material deeply and understand it, as well as retain it long-term.
  • Time-tested techniques, such as the memory palace, in which information is ordered and paired with visual images, boost our natural abilities for memorization. These techniques are effective for memory work in a wide variety of subject areas, including science, history, foreign language, and theology. As with any discipline, the more we practice the techniques, the more skilled we become.

Find what you want to hear:

  • [2:05] why memorize?
  • [4:23] the vice of curiosity vs. the virtue of studiousness
  • [4:48] memory and prudence/practical wisdom
  • [5:44] Dr. Vost’s background
  • [7:20] how memory works
  • [9:46] natural ability vs. artificial techniques
  • [12:37] memorizing information by ordering it and creating images
  • [14:17] 10 Commandments example
  • [18:50] being able to recall something forwards and backwards
  • [20:45] reusing the same memory palace locations
  • [22:08] when coming up with images is difficult
  • [24:50] memory for words vs. memory for things
  • [29:20] knowing when to use which techniques
  • [31:00] memorizing the mass examples
  • [32:25] memorizing material from science, history, foreign language, etc.
  • [34:10] French vocabulary example
  • [37:15] helps for using the technique with younger kids

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Thanks for your reviews

  • Morning time will change your life
    by RachBoz from United States

    I’ve listened to YMB and Pam off and on for years, and she literally changed my life 7 years ago when I was just starting to homeschool. I’m so thankful for her ministry and encouragement to homeschool moms of all ages! I highly recommend doing morning time!

  • Life Affirming
    by Logandinco66 from United States

    This podcast is amazing and has helped me so much as recovering perfectionist homeschooling mama! Pam gives so much great insight into so many aspects of life and focusing on homeschooling.

  • Life giving!
    by lapatita5 from United States

    This podcast has been so great. It’s so practical and encouraging without being overly preachy or narrow. It gives ideas in a take-what-fits kind of way. I have used many of the recommended resources and ideas mentioned and been inspired by many others. Even the episodes that I found less relevant to me specifically, often had tidbits that I could use. Pam’s podcasts, books, and resources have been a godsend to me in my beginning years of homeschooling, helping me discover my own way to teach my kids in a way that prioritizes what is most important to us.

  • You've made my school year!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam, My children are almost 11 and 13 and I never sent this review in! I found it sitting here. This is testimony that I am still so blessed by this podcast years later. So here it is: I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6

  • Love the show!
    by Startup Travis from United States

    Love your content and the guests you have visiting the show! I am a huge believer in using the morning hours well. Thank you for your direction and products!

  • Enjoy the podcast & some thoughts…
    by rufocused from United States

    I enjoy listening to tips on starting and using morning time as I am just starting it this year. We have kind of done it in the past, but when you only have one child you tend to just call it bible, story time, etc… but now that my second one is old enough to join we’re going to have more of a true morning time. I did notice Pam mentioned CNN ten in one episode. CNN can be pretty liberal biased in the main news, I’m not sure if they curb that in the “CNN ten”, but thought I would mention the Daily Wire, which is from a conservative viewpoint (and often covers indoctrination in public schools) and could be fun to compare and contrast with CNN. Our family also recently discovered Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family which has a very Christian perspective, which has been refreshing as news can be so depressing sometimes! Just thought I’d throw that out there… but really do appreciate the perspectives and insights of these women who have been doing this for awhile!

  • Very helpful and pleasant to listen to.
    by Heather homeschooler from United States

    I have listened to many episodes of this podcast and have highly recommended it to others. It has been a wonderful source of inspiration and encouragement. Pam has a great voice and presence and I love that she does not interrupt or talk over her guests. Thank you for your hard work!

  • Always insightful!!
    by method_money from Canada

    Pam always has great great guests who bring great insights and encouragement! I so appreciate her down to earth style and ability to ask great questions! Keep up the great work!!

  • A wildly encouraging and equipping podcast for homeschool families.
    by Eryn Lynum from United States

    As a homeshool mama of four (Ages 2-9), Pam's podcast has been an increidble encouragement to me. Not only that, but I have discovered so many helpful resources for focusing on what is lovely and true during our homeschool days. I love that it is not overwhelming in nature, but instead a gentle help for moving forward one day at a time in our homeschooling adventure.

  • Best podcast for homeschooling/variety of topics
    by Bethetal from United States

    I love this podcast for so many reasons. (1) Pam is friendly, funny, humble and kind (2) She covers a multitude of topics (one at a time)- I have learned about nature notebooks, classical music study, narration, living books, Shakespeare and so much more. Whenever I have a question about a new (to me)HS term or practice, I come here to listen to Pam interview someone about it. Her interviewees have all been all-in on their respective areas of interest/expertise and I love the way she interviews/asks questions to really let the guests shine as they speak. I have changed the structure of my homeschool, found books for my kids and me, purchased materials, and found inspiration due to this podcast and I can’t recommend it enough! This podcast has shaped my homeschool in so many positive ways, most of which I probably can’t even articulate yet, as the changes have been done inside of me. Thanks, Pam!

  • Great!!!
    by Eloblah from United States

    I love the variety of things that are talked about on this show for homeschooling - things that I would never even think about including or doing - with easy ways to do them. Very much recommend this podcast

  • New home schooling mom
    by A prit from United States

    I am listening to the past episodes and loving it. This podcast has helped me develop my own homeschool. So many ideas!! I love morning time so much, we do a nightly family time so my husband and public school attending son. We do all the things instead of watching tv, playing ps4, and YouTube. My kids hang around me every evening asking if we are doing family time. I can tell they love it but don’t want to admit it.

  • Morning Time Magic!
    by DrewSteadman from United States

    I am so excited Pam is back to her morning time focus for 2020. Our homeschool has been shaped by the rich ideas and practical wisdom shared here.

  • Yay! Morning time is back!
    by Homeschooler in Germany from United States

    I was so happy and excited to learn that Pam is shifting her focus back to Morning Time for 2020! I’ve missed the morning time exclusive podcast and can’t wait to hear her back in my earbuds.

  • So excited for 2020!
    by JCrutchf from United States

    I absolutely LOVE this podcast and was so disappointed when I realized you were not actively producing it! I’m NOW relieved to know there is a whole year of episodes ahead! I’m beginning my homeschool journey with 4 little ones very close in age and my style falls somewhere in the Classical and Charlotte Mason. I found your podcast by chance via Instagram recommendation as I was doing research on “morning menus.” Your content is beautifully philosophical but at a level most parents will be able to grasp and appreciate. Filled with truth, beauty, and goodness! Your episodes fill me up and leave me feeling inspired personally and in regards to my children’s education. Everything is so good! Please don’t stop producing ever again! I’ll be grateful forever!

  • So glad Your Morning is back!!!
    by alissajohn2020 from United States

    So glad to have the morning basket podcast back! Thank you for bringing it back!!

  • So good I ran out of gas.
    by JoanieHummel from United States

    This podcast is awesome! It was recommended to me a few years ago by a very wise and experienced homeschool mom but I didn’t start listening until I saw it come up a few more times on Facebook, recommended in various groups (in particular, episode number 41). I wish I had picked it up years ago! So much great information, I’m learning so much! Be careful though, I was so interested listening to this podcast that I didn’t notice how low my gas tank was getting! I ran out of gas and as I write this review I’m stranded on the side of the road waiting for a friend to come rescue me! Happy listening!

  • Knowledge Goldmine
    by A.J. Edwards from United States

    I’ve just been eating up every episode of this brilliant podcast over the past few months. The guests are stellar and Pam’s interview style is wonderful. She gets each guest to the meat and potatoes of their topic but it’s anything but a plain meal. This is a feast for the homeschool mom’s mind. I know I’ll be revisiting many of my favorite episodes again and again. Feeling so inspired by each guest!

  • Myths and fairytale truths for homeschoolers
    by Allierhn from United States

    Mind blown! I’m listening to the myth podcast and it’s absolutely perfect. It is answering so many questions I’ve struggled with my whole life. It helps me to view our curriculum and informs my teaching so much more.

  • Super Helpful!
    by Jennlee C from United States

    I can’t speak highly enough about this podcast. It has been a huge inspiration and a practical help to my homeschool! Thank you so much Pam Barnhill and everyone else who contributes to this. It has been an amazing blessing to me and my children… And possibly generations to come!

  • Practical Inspiration
    by Mamato3activeboys from Australia

    Not only am I inspired by each episode of this podcast but I have actually put so many of the ideas into practice in our own morning time. Such a huge help as I seek to inspire my non-stop boys to truth, goodness and beauty. We are now memorising poetry as they jump on the trampoline and they love Shakespeare. That's a parenting win in my book!

  • So many great ideas!
    by Parent 98765 from Malaysia

    Thank you, Pam! I’m now bursting with inspiration and can’t wait to start our 2019 school year with a strong morning time routine.

  • Joy
    by Ancon76 from United States

    My heart is enriched and I can’t wait to learn more.

  • Just what I was looking for!
    by Joey5176 from United States

    I was looking for morning basket ideas—simple ones. These podcasts are giving me a picture of a good morning basket.

  • Wow!! What amazing nuggets of knowledge
    by HeRo84 from United States

    This is truly life changing information for me as a homeschool mother. Thank you Pam for this amazing series.

  • Love it!
    by s chenvmv from United States

    I love all of Pam’s podcast but this one is prob my favorite. I love to listen to all her guest and see the different ways a morning time can be done

  • Excellent
    by W.A., R.A. Hall from United States

    Love this!

  • Love, love, love this show
    by SarahPMiller from United States

    And I'm not even a homeschooling mother! But I've created a Morning Time for my children nonetheless, and I wouldn't have been inspired to do it -- nor could I have done it -- without this podcast. It's my favorite, and I get something out of every single episode.

  • Wonderful resource!
    by honebubble from United States

    This podcast has changed what I thought I could offer my children, my family and myself... I never would have believed that it would be possible to live a life as so many people actually do. Thank you for these tools and for what you do to help women, teachers, moms and all those on this path. You are amazing and I just can’t get enough, each episode teaches me so much!! Thank you again!

  • A wonderful podcast!
    by NoName2018 from Canada

    Great ideas and interesting guests - thanks Pam!!

  • Insightful, Inspiring, Life-Giving Podcast
    by Mackenziechester from United States

    I love this podcast. It has turned cleaning my kitchen into a really valuable part of my day. There are great tips here for gathering your family together and finding ways to share the things you are passionate about but can never quite find the time to fit in to a typical school day. So many ideas, so many varied topics. Great, inspiring guests. Life-changing podcast. Thanks so much for sharing these ideas!

  • Such great choices of guests
    by andinic from United Kingdom

    This podcast is inspirational for your homeschool plans. Pam Barnhill has a delightful interviewing style and her guests share their insights and enthusiasm for their topics. Among my favourites are the episodes with Cindy Rollins, and Angelina Stanford. Don’t miss this encouraging podcast!

  • Great
    by WifeyKayla from United States

    Some great interviews and very helpful for figuring out the flow of our mornings.

  • Interesting ideas
    by Lisa1932 from Canada

    Just started this podcast. There are some very interesting ideas here on how to create quality time with your children, learning together and focusing on the things that are most important in life. Great hearing other moms' stories too.

  • WARNING: This podcast will revolutionize your homeschool!
    by JoysTeacher from United States

    Honestly, I started listening to this podcast because I had run out of other homeschool podcasts to listen. I really didn't think we needed a morning time! I homeschool one teen daughter and I thought the concept was too "baby" for us. WOW! I was completely wrong!! We needed a morning time, and it has changed the climate and the productivity of our homeschool. The habit was so important to us, we still do morning time when we are one break. (And neither of us is a "morning" person). Pam is an talented interviewer and will not waste your time (her time is precious, too)!

  • Excellent!
    by Jodylleigh from United States

    I'm really enjoying the ideas and tips Pam bring up in this podcast!

  • Truly an inspiration!
    by Soaring2him from United States

    I have started a morning basket just because of listening to this podcast. Pam sold me on the beauty of having a morning basket. I love all of the ideas I've gleaned from listening and I've implemented many of the ideas I have heard about through this podcast. It's really helped simplify some things in our homeschool day!

  • Easy to listen too, incredibly practical
    by HarrisFamily0323 from United States

    I really enjoy Your Morning Basket. Pam is a great host and I have taken away many practical ideas and had many unrealistic expectations corrected. I don't listen to all the episodes, but the ones I've thought were pertinent to my needs and have been able to apply something helpful to our homeschool. Thanks Pam!

  • So helpful for this new homeschooling mom
    by klund08 from United States

    I'm planning our first homeschool year and have really enjoyed this podcast! The interviews are great and I enjoy hearing from different homeschooling moms and how things work in their family. I'm excited to start Morning Time with my kids!

  • You've made my school year!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam, I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6 & 8 year old children and you responded with a warm response. I then began to listen to every podcast you have (all 3!) and I have been so very inspired and encouraged in so many ways that it would take up too much time here to explain it all. This Morning Basket podcast is really a light for me and my children as not only are they the recipients of our mornings of gathering but so am I. I have learned so much from your guests (and you!) and have been able to take tips/ideas to add to what my own mornings look like. We truly have experienced Truth, Goodness and Beauty. God certainly has chosen you for this type of work and serving to others. Thank you for what you do!

  • Thanks Pam!
    by BraveMomma from United States

    So many great ideas every single week! Thanks!

  • Truth, goodness, and beauty
    by I'm Sonny from United States

    Need I say more? I am deeply grateful for this profound and practical resource as we seek to surround our children in the truth, in goodness, and in things beautiful. I leave feeling encouraged, refreshed, determined and equipped.

  • Very encouraging
    by .....hk..... from United States

    So helpful with recommendations for new things to do in morning time.

  • A wonderful podcast full of useful tips!
    by Klarnold79 from United States

    I have listened to almost every episode over the last few months on my morning runs and they have made me look forward to running! I have learned so much and have been inspired to add truth, goodness and beauty to our homeschool days. Thank you so much!!

  • Wow! Talk about a solid series!
    by KastenbauerFamily from United States

    Each episode is fabulous alone, and when you've been listening for a while, they all continue to be full of new information!

  • Hope for the weary
    by MomToTheMasses from United States

    I enjoy the variety of topics covered as well as Pam's cheerful personality. Thank you for being a cup of cold water for so many homeschool mamas.

  • Great guests and host
    by My Life as a Rinnagade from United States

    I love the people Pam has on and all the great morning time tips! Thanks for a wonderful show :).

  • Mamma of Five
    by Mamma of Five from United States

    The ideas, information and encouragment that Pam shares through the different guests and talking about the purpose and practice of Your Morning Basket has been a huge blessing to our family. Helped me to practically see how to bring truth, beauty, and goodness to our day.

  • Great Homeschool Resource
    by KS Becky R from United States

    I have just started listening and am gaining so much knowledge and practical advice. I can't wait to keep listening to more.

  • Really great!
    by BeeGerW from United States

    I love hearing all these ideas!

  • californiafamily
    by californiafamily from United States

    I absolutely love Your Morning Basket podcasts. Pam interviews excellent people & so far, I've incorporated information from each podcast & have purchased many items that the interviewee's suggest. I think all families could benefit from this even if they don't homeschool! Thank you so much!

  • Love Pam's podcasts
    by Flourishing Mama from United States

    There are many homeschool related podcasts that I enjoy, both for their content and the host. But I must say that Pam Barnhill's podcasts are top-notch for the following reasons: 1) the content is both relevant AND in-depth, 2) she NEVER interrupts the guest speakers with incessant (annoying) "uh huhs," "ummms," and such, 3) she provides multiple lists and links to supplemental materials that are really useful and interesting, and 4) she shares forms she's created even though she could make you pay for them. She has a gift for tapping in to the issues homeschool moms are REALLY dealing with. Thanks Pam. Keep up the good work!

  • First Things First
    by Lukenoah from United States

    Every episode inspires me to start my day bringing my children the true the good and the beautiful through our family time.

  • So helpful!
    by jofcrich from Australia

    Every time I see that I have a new podcast from Pam Barnhill I know it's going to be good. Every one I have listened to (which is all of them!) have helped, inspired and encouraged me in some way or another. Pam is so good at summarising what her interviewee has just spoken about; a great knack which helps me distill the main ideas from all that good conversation. I really like that she always has links to whatever is discussed so that I can go back to it in the future and find what I need.

  • Great resource
    by Ejs0928 from United States

    Such a help for a new homeschooler. Highly recommend that you check it out if you'd like to learn more about starting your day with morning time.

  • Amazing!
    by CDefnall from United States

    This podcast is filled with great information to help you take full advantage of morning time or all together time in your homeschool. It also has great tips for extending your child education whether they are in public or private school as well. We all want to aid our kids in thier success and no matter if you are a homeschool parent or a public/private school teacher this podcast will enlighten you and provide valuable information you to to better help your students.

  • Inspiring and enlightening
    by spycej from United States

    One of my favorite podcasts and I love and subscribe to all of Pam's podcasts. Thank you for the fabulous interviews.

  • Must-Listen for Homeschooling Moms
    by DaffodilSocks from United States

    This podcast has revolutionized how I homeschool my young children. A must-listen.

  • One of my favorites
    by FaithAZ from United States

    Love Pam and all of her podcasts - can't wait for new episodes!

  • Great Ideas
    by Hiphooray from United States

    Just found this podcast and have been listening to them over the summer break. Pam is a great host and has fun guests and together they bring a lot of inspiration to the concept of morning time in homeschool. Thanks for the great resource!!

  • TaraVos
    by TaraVos from United States

    I would not be exaggerating if I said that I have learned so much from this practical, encouraging podcast that has changed our homeschool. Thank you Pam!

  • Lots of useful information
    by Kristizy from United States

    This podcast does a great job finding guests who give a ton of practical help to make morning time enjoyable and educational for everyone. I always feel reenergized after listening to any of Pam Barnhill's podcasts.

  • <3!!!
    by Momo35556 from United States

    I love this podcast! So helpful and encouraging.

  • Lovely & Inspiring
    by kashley75 from United States

    Thank you so much for this podcast!

  • Such a wealth of information!
    by Jeaine6 from United States

    There is so much wonderful information to be found in these podcasts. I can go about my daily chores and fill my homeschool mom cup simultaneously! They allow me to look at areas of our hs that need improvement or just need new life and feel encouraged while I'm listening. Thank you!!

  • Encouraging & inspiring
    by God's Ranch Hand from United States

    So thankful for this podcast! I look forward to listening to each episode when it comes out.

  • Homeschool Professional Development!
    by Jo.W.17 from Canada

    As a new-ish homeschooling mama, I've found this podcast super encouraging and helpful. I would highly recommend it!

  • So Helpful!
    by KGMom2Four from United States

    I love the practical application that comes from this podcast! Thanks!

  • A Lovely Show!
    by Webseitler from United States

    This podcast has become my most favorite podcast on the subject of homeschooling. The topics discussed often go right to the heart of why I'm doing what I'm doing in our home--and God has really used the great advice shared in this show to help me be a more confident (and calmer!) teacher. Thank you, Pam, for creating such a great program! Already looking forward to next season.

  • Awesome homeschooling resource!
    by Liddleladie81 from United States

    This podcast has absolutely changed my perspective on homeschooling, in a great way! All of the guests have been wonderful and I leave each episode feeling both sad that it is already over, and encouraged and excited to figure out how I can use what I’ve learned! It has a great flow to it, very light but meaningful, informative, encouraging….I could go on and on! Absolutely LOVE this podcast! Thanks to all involved!

  • Great hosts!
    by Homeschool_chat from United States

    I always look forward to this podcast!

  • Practical, helpful & concise tips
    by sproutnchic from United States

    This podcast continues to help. I appreciate the Pam Barnhill's professional, organized, yet warm interviewing style of some well-picked guests.

  • So refreshing and helpful
    by a. borealis from United States

    I've really appreciated the depth and breadth of Pam's look into Morning Time and also the practical ideas and tools to make it work. It is so inspiring! It helps me think through my own Circle Time, realizing what an opporunity I have. There are so many great ideas for additions and tweaking my approach. I am loving it.

  • Awesome!
    by Apples20091 from United States

    This podcast has been so helpful and packed full of practical ideas to use with my children!! Some of the episodes I have listened to more than once!!

  • Encouraging and Motivating!
    by Cat11223 from United States

    Pam makes this morning time concept so attainable! She gives great ideas but simple ways to begin. These tips and recommendations reach far beyond just morning time and are benefiting our entire homeschool and family life!

  • So many ideas!
    by Speterson781 from United States

    This podcast is full of amazing ideas to grab my kids attention first thing in the morning. I love listening to Pam and her guests. Pam asks such great questions of her guests!

  • A Favorite for Homeschool Encouragement!
    by JamesDWitmer from United States

    I have been so encouraged by Pam's podcasts on Morning Time. She walks you through many of the wonderful activities that you can choose to include in your homeschooling, and also the details about how to do it! It has truly been a blessing. Thanks Pam!

  • Perfect for the Homeschool Mom
    by JoshJamie from United States

    I just stumbled upon the "Your Morning Basket" podcast this weekend. I have already listened to 2 episodes, and they are wonderful - perfect for the homeschool mom. I am going to share this on my Periscope channel tomorrow. So great!! Jamie @OurLittleSchoolhouse.

  • SongsofJubilee
    by SongsofJubilee from United States

    I love the idea of a morning basket, and this podcast has helped me learn a lot about the different ways it can look! I love all the different subjects she discusses within it!

  • Love it!
    by Ekrasovec7 from United States

    This podcast has been such a blessing to me! Informational and insightful, it opens a window into how other families incorporate morning time into their day, as well as what they fill it with. This has completely changed the rhythm and content of our days for the better. Our whole family has fallen in love with morning time! Thank you!!

  • So encouraging!
    by A Merry Heart from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast! It has been so encouraging as I begin to implement Morning Time with my 5 girls. I have listened to them all & can't wait for more!

  • This podcast has changed our homeschool
    by Momof4athome from United States

    Pam has relieved some of the pressure to "get it all in". We now begin our day with the good true and beautiful in an almost effortless way and are all enjoying our time together before the "serious" subjects! Yay for the morning basket! Her guests are all lovely people you would want to have over for tea. I love this podcast.

  • Refreshing
    by Bless-Us-3 from Canada

    I am loving this podcast. I just stumbled across it after hearing the recommendation over at Read Aloud Revival. I have been wanting to start 'Morning Time' for a year now so this is giving me direction and so many wonderful and helpful tips and suggestions. I love Pam's enthusiasm and personality.

  • So helpful and inspiring!
    by KSR1 from United States

    I was lucky enough to find YMB and Pam’s other podcast, Homeschool Snapshots, when I started my first year of homeschool this year. These 2 podcasts have been SO helpful to me with getting ideas for morning time and the rest of our homeschool day. I am very grateful for the excellent work Pam has done on both of these podcasts, and I hope they continue for many more years!

  • Inspiring
    by Jaranda98 from United States

    This podcast was inspiring and encouraging. It was a good blend of practical and theoretical and exactly what this tired homeschool mom needed to hear today to rejuvenate.

  • An inspiring and encouraging podcast
    by Kellibird1111 from United States

    Very well done! I really enjoyed listening! Very practical and informative.

  • Honey for the Homeschooling Heart
    by SuperNOVAmom from United States

    Pam lays out a feast of homeschooling topics that are relevant, helpful, and validating. The show is well organized and her interviews are clearly well thought out. In addition, Ms. Barnhill's relaxed and warm personality puts one at ease. It's like going to your favorite homeschool conference without leaving home!

  • I love this podcast, great content!
    by Sara V from United States

    These podcasts helped transform our homeschooling!

  • Great parenting resource
    by sullivanjessicak from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast. The show is well organized with great guests and helpful information.

  • Thank you!
    by Nasiatel from United States

    I'm so happy that I found your podcast, it has truly blessed our homeschool life!

  • Wonderful help in my homeschool
    by BT and Jessica from United States

    This is a great resource for all homeschoolers (and I would say any educator). I am challenged to make sure I am giving my children truth, beauty and virtue through the morning ritual of our morning time. I’ve learned of new books to share with my children, how to incorporate fine arts, good habits for our day… I could go on and on. Pam asks great questions and has wonderful guests.

  • Top Notch
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Excellent inspiration and tips for homeschoolers! I have learned so much from this podcast.

  • Great Morning Time tips!
    by redhedcatie from United States

    I have gotten SO many practical tips from this podcast! A must listen for homeschoolers!

  • So Inspiring!
    by Frau Linds from United States

    Another home-run podcast! Pam has a knack for inspiring great things in your homeschool! And the wonderful thing is she doesn't leave you with the "lofty ideal," but offers practical tips, aids, etc. all while encouraging you the whole way. Each interview is professionally done and such a joy to listen to! Thanks, Pam, for putting your heart into this! 🙂

  • Wonderful!
    by Kellybireta from United States

    Like having a cup of coffee with a friend. So helpful and informative.

  • Excellent practical advise!
    by Foxycook from United States

    Really enjoying this so far!

  • Very encouraging!
    by WMGardener from United States

    This was been a great podcast about Morning Time! How encouraging and informative to hear from other homeschool moms who are in the midst of it all!

  • A great resource!
    by gejake from United States

    Very inspiring and informative as I begin my homeschooling journey

  • Love This Podcast
    by Earthmuffins from United States

    I have finally had opportunity to listen to this podcast and regret not doing it sooner!!! Very informative and encouraging.

  • Full of Goodness, Truth and Beauty
    by CJMance from United States

    This is such an inspiration to get the beautiful ritual of morning time established. Thank you Pam!

  • Great Podcast!
    by Greggtrisha from United States

    I'm so excited about this podcast! My kids range from ages 4 - 11, and I've been needing to reduce my workload a bit. I'm using the fantastic things I'm learning here to combine all my kids together for read-alouds, Bible time, memorization, and some other fun things. Thanks so much, Pam! I love your other podcast as well!

  • Treasure
    by TasmanianBec from Australia

    I am so glad I found this podcast. Morning Basket / Circle Time / Morning Time - lots of interviews with families who make this part of their day a treasure for years to come. Just getting started homeschooling, and this is going to help shape our days. Thanks Pam.

  • Jeannie in Ohio
    by Jeannie in Ohio from United States

    Loving learning about how so many families are using Morning Time in their homes!

  • Wonderful ideas for creating your best morning time.
    by Flowerpetal2 from Australia

    The ideas presented here are wonderful, it's great to hear how different families put together their morning time and how we can all make this a rich but simple time of beauty in our schooling days.

  • Excellent Host
    by meghanlou from United States

    Pam Barnhill is a truly excellent host and producer of podcasts. They are a pleasure to listen to, full of applicable and inspirational content. Unlike other podcasts in this genre, which are produced at home, Pam's podcasts never make me cringe because of awkward pauses or bad sound quality. Another of Pam's strengths is her ability to reflectively listen and summarize what she's heard from her guests in a way that wraps up the different segments of her interviews. Well done, Pam!

  • Helpful and fun!
    by HornGal88 from United States

    We’re just starting out with morning time and this podcast has been an invaluable source of inspiration and ideas. Keep up the good work!

  • LOVE IT!
    by sassercj from United States

    I’m always counting down the days until the next podcast…one of the best homeschooling podcasts out there!

  • Among the Best I’ve Heard
    by More Like Mary from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie so when I say that this is among the best, that’s really a compliment! Pam is an excellent interviewer. She re-states main ideas and summarizes information in a way that is helpful and not condescending. She asked poignant questions and stays on topic. Her guests are phenomenal and I’ve learned so much from each episode. So far, this podcast is “big picture” homeschooling talk with lots of tips for implementing lofty ideals into daily life. The perfect combination. I will be looking forward to many more of these!

  • Gave me the tools I needed!
    by Momofmany:) from United States

    This podcast is amazing. (I am spoiled now; the quality alone is superb!) I have listened to the four current episodes several times and now understand "morning time" in a way I never have before-- in particular, the schole part. I've longed for restful learning for ten years, and now I have tools to actually do it. Our whole family has benefitted so much. Thank you, Pam!!

  • What’s important
    by sncstraub from United States

    Pam Barnhill’s new podcast on Morning Time is a great help to those of us who are homeschooling. I’ve only listened to the first episode so far, but it’s wonderfully encouraging to hear Cindy Rollins’ talking through her own experiences with Morning Time. I’m looking forward to listening to more episodes with others who are focusing their schools on the important things - the true, good, and beautiful.

  • New listener and hooked!
    by Bytesofmemory from United States

    I just started listening to the first podcast this morning and I am completely hooked on this podcast. I took the advice in the first podcast and just started with morning time. Instead of trying to “give birth to an adult” morning time I just started doing something and will add things in as this becomes a habit. Thanks for the wonderful tool!! I am now off to listen to episode 2!!

  • Great!
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Encouragement for homeschool.

  • A Gift to the Homeschool Community
    by HGPII from United States

    This podcast is so well done, informative, and just what the homeschooling moms needs. It includes achievable, sound suggestions as well as an abundant dose of inspiration. I can’t wait to revamp my Morning Time and watch the results!

  • Encouraging and informative!
    by sarahdempsen from United States

    I have enjoyed Your Morning Basket from its first episode! I am a second generation homeschooler and just started our own family's homeschooling journey. Thanks to YMB, I implemented our "circle time" starting our second week of school and it has been such a blessing to me already even its very simple form of prayer, Psalm, Mother Goose, and then read-aloud time with my kindergartner. My 2 and 4 year olds also love it and it encourages me to include things in our day that might get left out, like nursery rhymes and simple children's songs! Thanks to Pam and YMB I feel like I am starting out with a great centering tool and routine that can be expanded and adapted as we grow!

  • A great resource!
    by Bookgirl630 from United States

    Your Morning Basket Podcast is a great resource for to help implement morning time into your homeschool day. I have enjoyed every episode so far.

  • Thank you for wonderful bonus at the end!
    by Caj312 from United States

    I just discovered this show and listened to the first 4 episodes. All were inspiring and I loved the useful links at the end of the show that help me improve my homeschool days! Well done and I look forward to the next episode.

  • One of my VERY favorites
    by Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventure from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, but YMB ranks among my very, very favorites. If you’re a homeschooling mother, or a mom who wants to connect with your children and show them truth, goodness and beauty, this is a must listen. Kudos, Pam, on a another amazing podcast series.

  • Timely
    by AggieRudy3 from United States

    I’ve been trying to figure out morning time on my own, but Pam with this podcast has figuratively sat down with me and explained how to get things going. I’m so glad to have this resource at the beginning of my family's homeschool journey! The Basket Bonuses have also been so helpful.

  • Thanks!
    by heyh2 from United States

    Thanks for the new podcast. Loving it!

  • Wonderful podcast with practical advice
    by Victorzvaliant from United States

    Thank you Pam for a great podcast, I am really enjoying it. I always come away inspired and with ideas I can use!

  • Changed our Homeschool Morning routine
    by HeatherinSC from United States

    I have been listening to the Your Morning Basket podcasts recently and Pam's blog writings about creating morning time traditions with your children and I feel like it has made a huge positive difference in our homeschool. I love Pam's ideas for creating a restful learning environment and focusing on truth, goodness, and beauty as we begin our day together. I listen to these podcasts over and over and take notes!

  • Excellent for homeschooling veterans and newbies
    by ASnow512 from United States

    I'm very new to homeschooling and I'm still deciding if our family will pursue that path. This podcast has been such a wealth of information and a wonderful encouragement!

  • Inspiring and Uplifting
    by vabjohnson from United States

    I was immediately inspired to create a more cohesive structure to our homeschool mornings. This podcast is full of helpful suggestions to make morning time meaninful for every type of homeschooling family. I've already implemented many of the wonderful suggestions and I can already see the benefits! An absoulte must for the homeschooling family!

  • Bringing Joy
    by Louisiana Mommy T from United States

    What an amazing podcast! This podcast has wonderful suggestions for bringing joy to (or back to) your homeschool. Everything is doable and enjoyable for the children and parents alike. Keep up the wonderful work!

  • Great podcast!
    by corew50 from United States

    This is our first year of homeschooling and I am really enjoying the concept of morning time. It is a sweet way to start our day together and this podcast has been amazing! Enjoyable, super practical, and filled with lots of creative ideas. Thanks for creating it.

  • Inspiring, yet practical
    by mamato3cs from United States

    Pam's Your Morning Basket podcast is one not to be missed! She and her guests inspire and spur me on to do great things in our homeschool, but it's not just adding more to my to-do list. There are practical suggestions for how to make morning time a refreshing and vital part of our day.

  • Super Helpful & Encouraging
    by Sanibel4ever from United States

    I have been homeschooling for a many years. I like that I can count on Pam to make to make it worth my while (and my short amount of time!) for a listen. As always, practical info I can start using right away.

  • Great Poscast
    by Sarah B R from United States

    Love Pam's interviews. I learn much from each poscast!

  • A Joy to Listen to!
    by Cude 🙂 from United States

    I am thoroughly enjoying this new podcast! I love to listen to people who encourage me on my homeschooling journey and I have added Your Morning Basket to my list.

  • JUST what I needed!!!
    by Foodie in Training from United States

    This is our first year homeschooling (Kinder) and this podcast has been INCREDIBLY helpful and a GREAT source of information!!! I cannot wait for more to come! <3 THANK YOU!!!!

  • Practical - worth a listen!
    by Bloggerific! from United States

    As a homeschooling mom of 6, my free time is limited. But I always come away with some practical, useful tips from Pam Barnhill. I love to listen if I’m alone in the car (rare these days!).

  • Well done [FIRST NAME]
    by MattMcWilliams from United States

    WOW… Your Morning Basket Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed Pam. Keep bringing it.

  • Inspiring and refreshing!
    by BugTurner from United States

    What a great podcast. At first I was dubious whether you could have an entire podcast series about homeschooling using morning time, but now that I have listened to two of them, I see where Pam is going with this. It is affirming for me in what I am trying to do in our homeschool, and at the same time inspires me in ways to improve and refine our time together as a homeschooling family. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to simplify their homeschool efforts while simultaneously enriching their family's experience!

  • Brilliant
    by SHTirm from United Kingdom

    I absolutely love it. Ever since I read about morning time, I wanted to know more. This podcast clearly explains what to do and how to do it. Episode with Cindy Rollins was brilliant. It gives you the overall idea of morning time practice, as she is doing it for 27 years. Andrew Pudewa in second episodes shared some insights about memorisation, which really makes so much sense. Pam asks clear questions and then repeats the main points in answer, which is very helpful, especially for new homeschooling mums. Overall this programme has everything one can ask for to get inspired and motivated. Thanks very much for putting so much effort. Well done.

  • Excellent!
    by RC5476 from United States

    I have really appreciated everything Pam Barnhill puts out. I have been introduced to so many great homeschoolers and their resources through The Homeschool Snapshots podcast, and I love that she is digging deeper into a great homeschooling practice on her new show, Morning Basket. It is definitely on my Must Listen list each week!

  • Bring the best you to your homeschool
    by mystiewinckler from United States

    Our Morning Time is the best part of our homeschool, and Pam’s podcast helps us learn how to make it even better and encourages us to pursue the true, good, and beautiful still more. So helpful!

  • Inspiring!
    by Mamato8 from United States

    I've only recently found out about Morning Baskets, after 14 years of homeschooling. What a find! And now to have these podcasts to help guide me along on my new journey! I've been sharing this like crazy, and my morning routine is fabulous now! Thank You!

  • Education to Educate
    by Isaac in St Louis from United States

    I have gained so much from these first two early podcasts. I am grateful to you, Pam. Thank you for offering this as we strive to fulfill our sacred duty and privilege to give our children an education. Please continue. I see such great things coming from this. I rank this up their with Circe’s offerings.

  • Wonderful
    by BGTwinsMom from United States

    When you're on the homeschool "circuit" it's easy to become one of Andrew Pudewa's groupies. So the excitement level for Pam's newest podcast doubled when I opened it on my iPhone and saw Andrew's name. I was remiss in not reviewing her first segment. Pam is a wonderful interviewer and has the ability to make conversation with her guests based on their answers and move seamlessly to her following questions. That is not easy to do. Highly recommend this to parents who Homeschool. Encouraging, motivating, and validating.

  • So Inspiring!
    by bethenyn from United States

    So inspiring! This podcast is what I needed to get our homeschool off to a great start this year. I will not miss an episode.

  • Inspiring and thought provoking!
    by Pascualamb from United States

    I've always thought memory work was so important in my 8 years as a teacher in a high school setting. I often required memorization and was criticized for this requirement. I recently decided to homeschool my children and this podcast was so affirming to me. I am glad to be able to follow my instincts as a teacher and give my kids what they deserve! Thank you for this wonderful podcast that inspired me to make memory work an important part of my homeschool.

  • Affirming & helpful
    by BOLDturquoise from United States

    I knew I would enjoy this podcast but I didn't know that I would LOVE it! As our family has moved more and more towards a simplified homeschool method, this podcast is just the thing to reaffirm our choices and continuously inspire us with new ideas. I can't wait for each new episode!

  • Inspiring
    by Amongst Lovely Things from United States

    This is just the kind of podcast I need to breathe life into my homeschool year. I’m so grateful for this new show, and Pam is a talented host. I won’t miss an episode!

  • Delightful...a Must Listen
    by 1coltsfamily from United States

    While I have heard Cindy Rollins speak about morning time before, I was pleasantly surprised to glean many new nuggets of wisdom that I can incorporate right away into our morning time. I always enjoy listening to Pam and find her questions spot on! The podcast is a wonderful balance of inspiration and practical tips. Can't wait for the next one!

  • Your Morning Basket
    by inakamama from Australia

    So lovely and inspiring! Looking forward to more...

  • Helpful & inspiring!
    by starlingsfive from United States

    A great resource for homeschool moms and so well put-together. Full of useful information, not fluff. Pam has a wonderful conversation style that keeps the show moving at a steady pace. I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next one!



  • Elizabeth Hafferty says:

    This was truly an interesting take on memorization. Thanks for always giving new perspective on traditional practice.

    • Dawn says:

      It’s amazing how much there is to learn and know that the ancients did, isn’t it? I haven’t tried this with my kids yet, but we’re going to. – Dawn, Community Care Coordinator

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      We have used it a couple of times and it works so well!

  • Elena says:

    Love it! How do I get the morning bonus?

  • Stephanie says:

    I am listening to this for a second time. My 17 year old has trouble memorizing, period. This technique is easier to understand now that we have used the book, Yo, Millard Filmore to memorize all the presidents by pictures. My trouble is and I guess a question, is there something any of you have found to help you come up with the pictures to use? Take for example, a memory verse, I am lost as to what images to come up with for words such as inspired. Any input? Thanks in advance.

  • Stephanie M says:

    Very useful memorization technique! I learned this for the first time at a Dale Carnegie course to memorize topics I could bring up when meeting someone new.

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