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Alphabet Song
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jan 2, 2002, 13:16

It is time to are like countless others who suffer from the same problem. You find yourself forced to rely on the "alphabet song" you learned in kindergarten to remember where in the alphabet certain letters go. Some of you are thinking, " I donít do that," but then think about that "elemenopee" section and you know I am right.

Many still have trouble remembering the order of letters in the middle of the alphabet and in a crunch you hum the classic that ends, "Now Iíve said my ABCs, tell me what you think of me." Now there is no need to be ashamed of this, you are not alone, many people suffer from the same problem. But I know you are wondering..."Am I dumb ?" I have good news for you, you are not dumb. You suffer from the serial order effect or the bowed serial order effect. It is a well known fact of rote learning that if you are memorizing a series of letters or numbers, you are more likely to remember the items near the beginning or near the end of the series. The alphabet, as an example, is easy until you get to around the letter G, at which point you start to hum the song again, until you get near the end, around W, and you cruise on the XYZ.

John Moore, of the University of Massachusetts says, "It isnít stupidity, it is just a consequence of the serial order effect, it makes learning the alphabet easier to learn as a child, but later in life there are some good theoretical reasons you might not want to retrieve a letter by singing a musical phrase."

We often memorize using visual or musical cues. Take as another example, punching in a telephone number on a touch-tone phone, even though you can do this flawlessly, try it on rotary or specialty phone and you get befuddled. The real problem for some is that memorizing through a secondary cue is not always the same as "knowing" something.

One of the things that many people struggle with is understanding or knowing the Bible. I get asked, "Why is it I just donít seem to be able to understand or remember what I read in the Bible?" I find myself in the same predicament at times. Believe it or not one of the reasons that we feel like our Bible studies are ineffective is because we arenít really studying. There is a difference between Bible reading and Bible study. Both are important, but they are two different things. When you study you find yourself writing notes, checking additional resources (like a commentary or handbook), and you work to memorize and remember. There is so much for us to discover in Godís Word that we canít reduce them to a song or a top ten list. One of the keys is to become a good student of Scripture then you will find that growth will take place.

Now back to the alphabet. You really should be able to say the alphabet forwards and backwards with no trouble (remember I said you should be able to, not me). You probably can count from 1 to 100, and then count back down. The reason is because you learned and know your numbers without the need of the song. But consider yourself in the majority if you have trouble doing that with the alphabet, because you canít play the alphabet song backwards. If you could you might find there is some hidden message there and then you would have to boycott the alphabet, and that would lead to a whole mess of problems.

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