The value of brute memorization in education

I grew up in a world where rote memorization meant everything. From 7th grade onward my life was non stop memorization and then spewing it back on exams and quizzes. Now we have the Internet and search engines like Google. Just this morning I was thinking about my 8th grade history assignment to find information about the Concordat of Worms and also the False Decretals. I search our substandard libraries high and low, and could not find the information. My point is simply that now I do not have to remember the 10 commandments or the 12 apostles or the beatitudes of the sermon on the mount or the Gettysburg address, or Hamlet’s soliloquy for the simple reason that I am always seated in front of a computer which has Internet access and I may quickly access all such information. So, brute force memorization is an artificial test for whether someone has done their homework but plays no role in knowing HOW to think, or what to think, or developing a genuine love for learning and information and creative writing.


Well, quizzes on memorized material are attempts to quantify, yet whatever we memorize will soon be forgotten if not constantly used. Hence, memorization is not only a waste, but is perhaps harmful if one’s goal is to instill in a student a lifetime love of learning and writing for its own sake.

These FB threads are not our doctoral dissertations. I take all my pills and metamucil, drink my coffee, and try to use what is left of my brain by browsing various threads and trying to respond in some stream-of-consciousness association fashion as in : you say po-tay-to I say po-TAH-to. Sorry if my comment seemed a bit off topic, but surely it is not a total non sequitur,

Actually today I saw several other threads posted by life-time career teachers complaining how their pay scale is tied to a classes performance. So, at times, when I respond to one thread, I am actually reacting to several threads.

With each passing year I feel more and more strongly that physical classrooms are inefficient, antiquated and not cost effective when all textbooks may be on line and in public domain while students participated in chat rooms and message board threads and watch videos of lectures. And I think Wi-Fi should be available to all for free so that children may have equal access to Internet resources. Obviously there are issues with counter-productive activities of game playing and porn watching but surely our society and technology is clever enough to work that out. Computer illiteracy is a serious impediment to a government “of the people and by the people.”


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