Saturday, April 10, 2010

The value of memorization

Ben Johnson writes about When Rote Learning Makes Sense. He starts with:

As a youth, I remember feeling cheated out of rich content in my education when I listened to my mother in times of sorrow or tenderness, lovingly recite entire poems and passages from books she studied in high school.

We all know that practice makes perfect, but for some reason perfection is not one of the goals of learning in most schools. In today's classrooms, students practice plenty, but are not required to retain knowledge perfectly.

The M Word

Somewhere along the way, rote learning got a bad rap. Memorization (there, I said the M word) became anathema to learning. How this came to be, I am uncertain, but what I am certain is that this shift away from memorization has undermined the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process altering whole generations. Perhaps the misplaced angst against memorization has come from the notion that memorization is reserved for teachers as a teaching methodology.

The true nature of memorization, however, is not for the teachers at all, really. It is for the students. And it is the responsibility of teachers to teach students how to use it to help them in their educational career.

He makes some good points. Go read the full post and consider having your children spend a little time doing some memorization.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

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Luke Holzmann said...

The ability to memorize stuff is super valuable. Granted, I think it is best used in particular contexts and for very specific purposes. But being able to memorize is important.


Jehu said...

If you don't have something basically in memory, and quickly accessible to your brain, it will NEVER become part of your intuition. The highest function of most of my mathematical training as an engineer in my profession is to give my intution sufficient tools to determine when something 'looks wrong' and merits further analysis. Multiplication tables and the like are the first step on that ladder.

Lloyd said...

Memory is essential in every aspect of it. Teaching your children or students about different strategies on how to use and what are the values of memorization, is important, as it gives them the opportunity to enhance their intellectual abilities and develop further.

But Henry, I somehow doubt we should put our children memorize entire poems by heart. I think that might be a bit too much.