Memorise this

The most outdated form of learning is memorising. Other than the ability to write and speak – it’s hard for me to see a future for memorising anything when I have access to the knowledge of the world, in real time, in my pocket.

So why do we still ask kids to memorise lists, States, Ex Presidents and the first 20 elements of the periodic table?

The really valuable part of computing power is the ability to process the data, the RAM. The hard drive (the storage) is less expensive and I’d say not as important. How often do we go into our files to find that presentation, spreadsheet or file from 2 years ago? – Almost never.

I think it’s a lot like our human brains, the real value is in problem solving, not rote memorising. Ironically personal computers seem to be moving back to the way they began – without the potential to store data locally. The data stored on our hard drive is quickly moving to the cloud and away from our computers. And it’s my contention that we should do the same thing with memorsing stuff and outsource that to the micro chip as well.


5 Comments Memorise this

  1. Theresa Saldanha

    Your post got me thinking….I’m a product of an environment (India) which thrived(and still thrives) on learning by memorising. However, as this was not my natural learning style growing up, I had to force my brain to adapt…I built relationships between information, used visual aids, pnemonics etc so that I could memorise vast amounts of information. Today, some of that memorised information is of use (occasionally), but the more important value gained, I believe, is that I can access memories, make connections, build relationships between information faster, and bring that together in more coherent forms than most people.

    I would assume, that like any muscle in the body, the brain, when its forced to adapt, develops new pathways that helps it cope. Stressing the brain, like stressing muscles, builds stronger, faster connections, allows it to make those creative leaps…

    Why would we still need our brains to make these fast connections & creative leaps ? Because, as far as I know, no computer or man made system can yet mimic the kind of creative leaps & intuitive connections that a human brain can make, and until it does, we need to find ways of enhancing our brain ability.

    Whilst I dont advocate memorising by rote(its boring & likely to turn kids off learning), I do believe we need processes within our education system that continues to ‘stress’ the brain, allowing it to adapt, grow stronger, & build new pathways….problem solving is definitely one of them…. another one is exposing kids to a whole lot of different stimulus, varied but unrelated, that fosters brain development, & allowing them to use different methods to solve problems (for eg a video presentation of a book report)

  2. Steve Sammartino

    I totally agree with you – the key point is that we should stress our brain muscle with important stuff other than pure data storage of lists and things… Our brains are more important than ever, and we are absorbing and exposed to more data than ever – so they key will be processing and using what’s around us – not the ‘rote’ stuff.


  3. kpolo

    I am a stickler when it comes to memorization. My son will absolutely memorize multiplication tables to 12×12 if not 20×20. And he will run laps around his generation in a decade or so.

    Memorization keeps your brain active. The highest form of memorization – which unfortunately is inaccessible to most people because of baseless presuppositions and pre-commitment to the opposing worldview – is that of the Bible (Ps 119:9). Nothing beats having the operating manual to mankind in your brain readily accessible when you need wisdom and discernment. But like I said, it is inaccessible to most due to the noetic effects of sin.

  4. Sam Sabey

    It’s not possible to solve a problem without memory. Just like a computer cannot function without RAM. Our brains need a good cache of information to do stuff. Imagine if we didn’t memorise how to type or speak or spell (at least adequately)

    Our brain needs these concrete pathways to be able to operate efficiently, however what we memorise may or may not be important.

    Sam, @samotage
    who still benefits from his times tables memory.

  5. Steve Sammartino

    I agree totally Sam – we do need the ability to remember and memory… including those things you mention like language and math. What I’d like to see more of is opportunity and recognition in education as a function of creativity rather than rote learning….


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