rote memorization is important

05/07/2013

Yes.

Rote memorization is an important aspect of learning and we do it all the time.

But most of us hate to admit to that – perhaps because it is not considered kewl to have such antediluvian notions. It is not postmodern. It is not hip!

Whenever one comes across this much maligned term called ‘mugging’ – the immediate thing which a given ‘avant garde,’  ‘knowledgeable’ & ‘alternative’ parent  (purely self assessment, so pardon them) does is to choke, gag and vehemently say that he/she is against all mugging…

This is especially a problem with many parents who send their wards to some random ‘alternative’  school and think that anything that the masses do, them asses would not do. What an incredible attitude! (however, I agree that this ‘attitude’  helps in status perceptions and involves reflected  glories – but that’s another journal topic)

… It does not help this situation, when the so-called ‘alternative’ schools also make hissing and disgusted noises about this ‘rote’ business – while at the same time positioning ‘creativity’ firmly on the opposite side of the balance, weighing heavily against ‘mugging. Personally, I would not go anywhere near any such school / individual  which / who  carries this silly superciliousness of a sad attitude. It says a lot about the cognitive capabilities of the folks running such schools and most of it is, well, tragic!

Mind you – here I am talking about the mugging of the ‘rote memory’  kind and NOT the physical violence oriented one – am not even talking about a possible transmogrification in a certain species of crocodiles into humans (Oh the laboured  pun, the horror) …. Even then, there are some incredibly negative connotations that a given clueless individual would associate with, in respect of such offending words such as ‘memorization,’ ‘rote,’ ‘mugging,’ ‘repetition’ etc etc.

Time and again, I feel that one should do the following process thoroughly, in a non-half-baked way – unlike the way most of us ‘learned’ and ‘alternative’ and ‘intelligent’ and ‘thinking’ adults rather routinely do things.

I think a proper understanding stemming from this activity could actually release us from being splendidly stupid, while we think we are uttering great philosophical stuff about the child, development, cognition, growth ad nauseam.

The questioning / interrogation process (probably leading to a better enlightenment)  to which we should diligently adhere to, could comprise the understanding of the following:

  1. What is ‘rote memorization?’
  2. Is it against logical thinking, creativity & spontaneity?
  3. Is there no ‘mugging’ aspect to a ‘creative’ endeavour?
  4. In what ways is ‘rote learning’  important?
  5. Can we do without any ‘mugging’ at all?
  6. What would life be, without rote memorization?
  7. Can we say with a straight face that we don’t benefit from this ‘mugging’ at all?
  8. What are its limitations?
  9. What is the place of ‘rote learning’ in ‘education?’

You know, I have a problem with asinine dyadic representations that are blindly taken as gospel truths of reality. Reality always lies between the ideal types. Sometimes, even the ideal types are much misunderstood and randomly interpreted. More on this endlessly peeving reality later, though!

So, when one talks about ‘mugging’ as a despicable thing and ‘creativity’ as a thing to be held aloft, I don’t know where to begin – It is true that I have had mighty verbal duels in the past regarding this contentious subject and I usually did not rest till the opponent was subdued and  vanquished.

However, I think I am growing up too, considering the fact that when a parent in one of the recent school meetings made a disparaging comment against ‘rote learning’  I only politely smiled at the parent. Oh how can I let myself down!

Hmm. But then, let us handle the questions (and perhaps a few more) one by one –  in the subsequent journal entry.

Stay tuned (or untuned as the case may be).

JournalEntry: 30th May, 2010.

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