Monday, October 15, 2012

Memorization Versus Practice and Use

My son likes to make letters with toothpicks, clay, rice, stickers, and other items.
Today I overhead a conversation between two parents while out and about. The discussion was about memorization and how they still remember things they memorized in school now that they are adults. One parent mentioned an educator she knows who suggested memorization occurring at a quicker pace if the information is put to music. Most people would not think anything of this conversation. I will be honest, I am not like other people and I question everything. This conversation made my stomach turn a bit sour. Keep in mind that I taught for many years and currently teach my own children at home. In my experience, children who know how to look up and use information are quicker to solve problems and can see problems from varying viewpoints more easily than children who have spent much of their time memorizing facts and figures only to be forced to regurgitate the information.

We humans naturally memorize information we use often and benefit from research skills. If I know the way home, then I can get home safely as well as teach someone else how to get to my home. If I memorize times tables I may or may not be able to recall them out of order to solve problems because outside of school my daily life may not include the need for this skill especially the use of two digit numbers. It is more important to give our children repeated experiences to practice skills and use information, than to have them sit and work on a worksheet or sit and look through flash cards. Remember, repetition and practice are necessary and a child will not learn everything there is to know about a topic in one sitting anyway even if you use flashcards and forced memorization.

Below are some ideas that will help your child practice skills without forcing memorization on the child. You can even use flashcards for some of the ideas! You are still practicing commonly known information, but not keeping your child from using the information in different and creative ways to think critically. I hope that my post helps inspire you to find hands on ways to teach children rather than using rote memorization to teach topics.

1. Play go fish
2. Play memory
3. Teach someone else the information
4. Draw an advertisement
5. Write a story or paragraph
6. Use the information to solve a problem
7. Science experiments

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