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Memory is Memorable: Coaching and Remembering

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Unique Name: Even the use of a memorable name can make a difference – such as borrowing the unique name of a semi-famous composer (Engelbart Humperdinck) by an obscure British singer named Arnold George Dorsey. With his new name–that could not be forgotten–Engelbart rose to fame (and ironically is now better known than his namesake).

In my role as a coach, I sometimes work with my clients to “invent” a new name that describes their behavior. For instance, I use the word “Complexify” with one of my clients—who tends to mash things together so that they become more complicated. With another client (actually a cluster of clients), I co-authored the word “plork” to represent their attempt to bring word and play together in their life. In making use of this new word (“plork”), I give my clients permission to introduce new ways in which to bring about an integration of work and play.

MAPS

In a previous essay (Bergquist, 2021), I presented a series of coaching strategies—called MAPS–that are clearly directed toward not just assisting a client in understanding a concept but also helping them retain this concept for application in their life and work. We can point, once again, to the powerful role played by schemata in not just understanding something but also retaining that which has just been understood. As a coach, I can offer a unique and compelling way in which my client might view a challenge they are facing in their work or life. With this “fresh” perspective and potentially new (or revised) schemata in mind, they can try out new (“fresh”) ways of being in their world – much as my clients could find a new way of “plorking.”

I identify four schema-based strategies that are associated with MAPS (itself a mnemonic acronym). These four strategies are metaphor (M), analogy (A), parable (P) and Simile (S). I encourage the reader to go to this essay where examples of each MAPS strategy are offered. In the current essay, I will only offer one example of a MAPS strategy. It is a parable—and it is intimately associated with the role played by narrative in the retention of both implicit and explicit memories (as well as being used in both procedural and expository thinking).

I was coaching the head of a major faculty development program at a liberal arts college in California. This college was the recipient of a very large grant to fund developmental work with its faculty. The grant was one of the largest ever given for this kind of program in an American postsecondary institution. The funds were provided not because this college was uniquely qualified to receive the grant, but because the college is located in a community where a major foundation is located (and where the foundation must devote all of its funds given firm restrictions placed on the foundation by the primary donor).

While the grant was welcomed by the faculty at this college, it did not meet their primary need—which was for higher wages. The cost of living had skyrocketed in this community and the faculty at this college could no longer afford to live near the college. They had to commute from long distances and, in most cases, were spending several hours each day in their car. Or they retained their home near the college and were either spiraling into debt or relying on the income of their spouse. In working with the director of this faculty development program I found that most of the faculty receiving faculty development grants were trying to find ways in which their grant would ease their financial burden rather than facilitate their professional development.

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