Why is memorization denigrated?

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2 Responses

  1. I don’t think that memorization is underrated, I think the way it is taught is. Students often go home and cram for loads of random facts, regurgitate them, then forget em. That’s the problem. Since students forget it anyway, learning skills is better.

    I would add that students should learn skills to memorize well, i.e. chunking information and connecting it to previously known info. If memorization is taught as a skill, I’d say yes. If students are just asked to memorize things, I’d say it has incredibly low educational value.

    I work in countries where memorization is highly valued and students tend to remember nothing and lack even basic critical thinking skills. Information becomes seen as absolute and right if it comes from an authority like a parent, teacher, or book. It’s a huge problem.

  2. As you rightly say, when memorization is taught as a skill, a tool to be used to reach an end, which might be actively learning new facts, solving problems… it will have a meaning. But consider the difficulty which math students find to do simple calculation because they haven’t learnt the multiplication table, or the language students who don’t have enough inetrnalized resources to draw upon when they want to use language, analyze it, identify contextulized occurences of certain structures, functions…
    It is also true that memorization should meet the criterion of the relatability to previous knowledge. If this condition is not met memorization doesn’t add any value to learning. And it is precisely this which distinguishes long term memory from short term one. We forget easily things that are not associated with or related to prior knowledge.
    So, yes I agree memorization will be useless if it isn’t used appropriately.

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