They argue that memorization exercises the brain and even fuels deep insights.
They say our haste to purge old-school skills-driven teaching from our schools has stranded a generation of students upriver without a paddle.
Such tactics certainly work better than raw rehearsal. Like raw rehearsal, it relies on repetition to chisel a fact into memory, but unlike that method, it comes naturally (without "deliberate effort").
But they don't solve the underlying problem: They still bypass real conceptual learning. In 10th-grade English, I wrote a paper on Robert Frost's apocalyptic poem "Once by the Pacific." I read it dozens of times, dissecting every phrase. And second, there's building on already-known facts.
Memorizing a list of prepositions isn't half as useful as knowing what role a preposition plays in the language. Months later, standing on a rocky, storm-swept beach, I found that I could recite the poem by heart. Like mnemonics, this technique relies on connections and associations.
But here, the connections emerge naturally from the material.If you are not good at theorems and their proofs, you may need support when doing linear optimization homework.The good news is that support with solutions is available at many places including at your school and online. The physics teacher lets us." Nice try, but no dice.It lingered like a purple bruise on his college applications. Cheat sheets aim to substitute for memorization, and I hate it when my students memorize things."What's the sine of π/2? Some things are worth memorizing--addresses, PINs, your parents' birthdays. It's a fact that matters only insofar as it connects to other ideas.They recommend new apps aiming to make drills fun instead of tedious. So of course, it's popular among students ranging from my Oakland 15-year-olds to Harvard undergraduates.Most of all, they complain that rote learning has become taboo, rather than accepted as a healthy part of a balanced scholastic diet. A head full of facts--even memorized facts--is better than an empty one. During a unit on memory, I once heard a psychology student recite, "Raw rehearsal is ineffective," before proceeding to practice her vocabulary using the same technique she'd just denounced.To learn it in isolation is like learning the sentence "Hamlet kills Claudius" without the faintest idea of who either gentleman is--or, for what matter, of what "kill" means.Memorization is a frontage road: It runs parallel to the best parts of learning, never intersecting.I once caught an 11th-grader who snuck a cheat sheet into the final exam. The principal and I rejected his alibi and hung a fat zero on his final exam.At first, he tried to shuffle it under some scratch paper. That dropped his precalculus grade down from a B to a D . "We learned that last year."So I skipped ahead, later to realize that they didn't really know what "sine" even meant. To them, math wasn't a process of logical discovery and thoughtful exploration. Trigonometry was just a collection of non-rhyming lyrics to the lamest sing-along ever.