The essence of the method consists in the deconstruction, organization and then reconstruction of the material, so that it is brought into a memorable form for you.
For this purpose, it contains 5 steps and “SCALM” is an acronym for these steps, which are: Structure-Chunk-Associate-Locate-Memorize.
Let's see what each stage entails:
1. The first step of the method is to Structure the information
This stage aims to create an overview of the material to be memorized, that will help us to organize the memorization process. In short, at this stage we create a general map of what we have to do. There are cases where the material is already organized by the author in the form of tables, charts or lists. We can use these as an overview of the information. Of course, all the books also have a table of contents, but it is often difficult to use because its text form. For this reason, the SCALM technique often uses a very efficient tool, invented by the great memory and learning expert Tony Buzan, who is called mind map. A mind map is a synthetic diagram that provides an overview of the material and helps us organize our memorization process.
2. The second step of the SCALM method is Chunking
Chunking is a process by which the material is broken down into organized and meaningful pieces of information. You have probably heard the saying that you eat an elephant one bite at a time and this is the principle on which any complex human activity is based. The same principle applies in learning.
Basically, at this stage we break down the material into smaller pieces, which will be easier to associate and manipulate in our mind. In the end, we will have a lot of pieces that we then stick like leaves in the tree that is our mind map.
3. The next step is Association
Basically, this is the core of the mental process of memorization. Association is the central element of any memory technique and it means creating a mental connection between the abstract information you have to remember and a concrete image as a person, an object or an animal. This easy-to-memorize image will act as a trigger to bring the other to light, from the depths of your memory. It works like a shortcut that launches an application from your computer.
Here is an overview of memory techniques used by SCALM method in the association stage:
- Acronyms and The Sentence Method
- The Story Method
- The Sound Alike Technique
- Rhymes and Jingles
- The Names Association Technique
- The Major System
At the end of this stage, we will have a list of simple and concrete pictures (like a horse, a lion or a king), which we will have to memorize in the next stage.
4. The fourth step is Localization
This is one of the most important aspects of an orderly memorization. You’ve probably heard so far of the memory palace method (also known as the LOCI method), an ancient memory technique which is based on placing mental images along an imaginary journey that will become an orderly structure for memories.
Imagine you go to work and along your route you meet, in some well-defined places, the images you have to remember (for example, you might meet a lion in front of your house or an elephant in the bus station where you wait in the morning). The more dramatic, even bizarre and wacky the scene, the better you can remember it.
This combination between a concrete ordered structure, such as your journey to work in the morning, and the equally concrete images that you created in the association stage will cause them to become deeply embedded in your memory.
5.The last step is the Memorization of the images
If you applied the method’s previous steps correctly and if you created powerful images and triggers for your memories, this step is very simple. You simply walk again (in your mind) along your route, and all the learned notions will appear in your mind’s eye in the same sequence.
By following a series of clear steps and simple rules for memorizing different types of information, the SCALM method brings a systematic approach to a task that seems difficult for all of us: memorizing hundreds of pages of horribly abstract, unattractive and unrelated information.
By learning this technique, you will improve your proactive learning abilities and you will add to your learning tool set an invaluable technique.