Posted 18 July 2006 - 06:07 PM
It's my understanding that acronyms and mnemonics are best used not to help memorize a list of words but to help keep lists of words in a specific order.
An example of an acronym usage would be for the color spectrum. The acronym would be roygbiv or Roy G. Biv (Mnemonic Acronym) for Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue Indigo, Violet. It doesn't really help one memorize the color names but it sure does help keep one from putting the color Violet before the color Green.
An example of a mnemonic would be for keeping the order of zoological (and botanical) classifications: Kings Play Chess On Friday Given Space for Kingom, Phyllum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species (anyone who's had Zoology will likely have had to know the exact order for a test). While King can help one memorize the first classification Kingdom, Play certainly doesn't help one memorize the word Phyllum.
The strength of most acronyms and mnemonics for memorization is in keeping proper order rather than names. Some word groupings just don't lend themselves well to such mnemonic devices and the Scout Oath is one of them - the reason is it has too many words that start with the same letter - Trustworthy and Thrifty, Courteous, Cheerful and Clean. Another reason could be too many letters altogether.
In these instances, a better solution is either to "musicalize" it - how many people learned their ABC's (all 26 letters) by singing the ABC song (and how many of you just had that song pop into your head) or to just go with repetitive vocalization.
Most people are afraid of memorization because they don't believe they can do it. A "trick" I used with Webelos was to use flash cards in order then after a couple of weeks, move one card out of order - someone, if not all of them, will notice it's not in the right place - guess what? If they noticed, they've got it memorized - and the next step is to overcome their performance/test anxiety over the Scout Law. It will soon become second nature.
Just as an aside, at my summer camp, the Scout Oath was posted along the top of the wall in the dining hall so that people could read from the wall if they chose. Where many Scouts like to add the word Hungry (as a very old joke that everyone thinks is original when they first do/hear it but is older than dirt) between Clean and Reverent at summer camp, our side of the summer camp (our camp had two sides) put the word Exit between Clean and Reverent. Why? Because that's where the dining hall exit sign just happened to hang - on the wall between Clean and Reverent. You could tell an East Camper from a West Camper based on the summer camp version of the Scout Law they repeated - West Campers used Exit, East Campers used Hungry.