Everyone’s got a song that is a little blip of a song that was popular for six months when you were 17 that then went away maybe to be heard only a few times ever since then. But after all those years, when it comes on you sing every word to the song. One of mine that comes to mind (and they don’t come to mind easily, do they? That’s the point.) is Ace of Base’s “All that She Wants.” (stop that chuckling) If I’ve heard that song ten times since 1994 it’d be a lot, mostly because “The Sign” is their one hit that has somehow come through the years and still gets some airplay.
Maybe yours is a deep track from an album you used to play endlessly, but don’t anymore. Or some novelty hit? I heard “The Ballad of Irving” for the first time since I was six years old on the radio, and form held true as I recited every dumb word of that Dumb Dittie. How about Bobby Sherman’s “Easy Come, Easy Go”? Napoleon XIV and “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” is a good one I think.
I went to nine years of Catholic School. We prayed the Rosary at least once a month from second grade on and did so every morning every May. I still need the words in front of me to recite the Apostle’s Creed. Same goes for so many of the hymns we sang regularly in music class and in church. I know some of the choruses, but the verses have long since escaped me.
The point of that tangent is that if I asked you why I still know the words to “All that She Wants,” you’re first instinct would likely be, “Well you listened to it so often that it stuck.” But it’s clearly not the repetition that made it stick or I’d be able to get past the first stanza of The Creed, and I’d know more than the chorus of “The King of Glory.”
What if it’s because I built my own memories around the song. A fancy way of saying it is that the song exists in my mind within a concept or an idea of me at 17 that is made up of different people and places that I put together myself.
Why does so little of what is taught at school stick with us?
Could it be because so much of it is put together for us? Even if we are given the pieces and told to put them together ourselves with instructions (think most school projects), it still doesn’t belong to us.
The SOLE is not a perfect system. It’s not a cure all for all people. But it does offer the opportunity for children to seek for themselves and create their own concepts about the world.
“Why do countries go to war?” “Why some animals live longer than others?” “Why do I have to learn about __________?”
And like my song, when your children have the opportunity to build their own concepts, there’s a far better chance that the tiny details will stick as well.