How a Memory Palace Fuels the Elevator Speech

My apologies for the mixed metaphor in the title, but I'm pressed for time these days.  I certainly need to improve my blogging frequency, monthly just does not cut it with me. My 'Other' Memory Palace

We recently began to settle on a strategy story line at our little shop, to capture our approach to improving life options for children of color and poverty through education transformation.  Even that is a mouthful, but it gets harder.  Ready?  We aim to:

Accelerate achievement for these children through system redesign in order to realize a personalized learning experience for each child.  We will pursue this by working in a network of selected districts established under umbrella 'innovation zones,' connected by a common information services platform.  We will deliver frameworks for innovation in education and specific tools that have proven effective - recognizing a spirit of both experimentation and measurement.  We will work to establish lasting networks for sustained innovation across the educational system, improving the probabilities that innovation will lead to systemic transformation.  We don't want to lock in our 21st century understanding of learning - we are currently locked into a 19th century approach and have learned the hard lesson of stagnant markets for education.

Whatever you think of the paragraph above (and how many floors would that elevator ride take to explain?), I am able to recite it at will because the pieces live in my childhood home on Long Island.

Allow me to elucidate.

Borrowing from Matteo Ricci and reaching back to 1596, I first rely on the accidental blueprint in my head regarding the home in which I spent my first 16 years (and then a few additional years, but that is a story for a different blog).  As I first heard and talked through our strategy, I walked through my home and placed artifacts or built structures to remind me of the elements.

Walking in my front door, I head first upstairs - in the bathroom I have placed a speedometer to reflect Acceleration.  We were a family of six, with one and one-half baths.  Acceleration was something often requested of the inhabitant.  Walking to the back bedroom, I find Personalization because my sister once painted the walls a hideous blue that refuses to leave my memory.  Walking back up the hall, I stop at the bedroom I used as a teenager.  Here is where I used to exit the home using the window, sliding down the garage roof for post-curfew appointments.  Of course, this reflects System Redesign.  In the smaller front bedroom, I placed imaginary scaffolding to reflect how much I wanted to rebuild the room when sleeping there as a small child.  Hence, Frameworks.  In the fourth bedroom are many boxes containing - the Tools.  The man of the house had been packed up and moved out when I was 11 years old, hence the packing crates with tools.

Walking downstairs, I sidle past the System Architects sitting on my couch - my sisters' boyfriends who curried favor by fixing things around the house - to the dining room which long featured a "swamp cooler" for "air conditioning."  Here I imagine the humidity and flora, including the Cocoon (innovation zone).  In the kitchen, where my mother spent weekends perfecting her sauce in a large kettle (every home on Long Island understands the Italian sauce that lasted all week), I find the Information Services Platform.  Here I pause for a bite of most excellent sausage (Laws), as most of my conversations begin with the new role of the Federal government in education and the opportunities this provides for our endeavors.

So there is my Memory Palace.  Hardly a palace to my recollection, but it's an internalized physical space through which I can wander and survey the elements of our strategy. My childhood home is filled currently with the elements for education system transformation.

Where is your Memory Palace, and what do you keep there?