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There are a lot of modern methods and technologies in education world, so that many people start leaving memorization and drilling in children education with thousands of reasons. It is said that memorizing and drilling wastes our learning time which can be substituted with technology and references. Why do we need to memorize multiplication and division table while we can use calculator instead? Do we need to repeat the long division exercise while we have understood the concept well? Is it necessary for children to memorize the capital cities of countries in the world? In religion, why do we need to memorize the scripture (whatever religion) while we always have “the book”ready to read?
Let us see the goal of memorizing and drilling. In The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, Leigh A. Bortins said:
The more we see the same information from different angles and through a variety of experiences, the more neural pathways we create to access that idea, and the easier information becomes to process or think about.
We often forget that memorizing facts is not merely wishing that the facts will remain in the memory everlasting, but the main goal is the brain training behind the process. In the similar way, drilling is one kind of memorizing “methods” and facts. By drilling and memorizing, we train our brain to be familiar with certain things in a shorter time.
The next questions are:
1. Are number facts worth to memorize? For me, along with the conceptual understanding, memorizing number facts such as multiplication, division, addition, subtraction is very crucial as they are the basic concept of numbers in certain level of calculation. Calculators might replace the function of memorization, but using calculators itself needs those basic competence of number concepts. Moreover, we don’t always bring calculators anywhere and anytime. We rarely or never bring calculators to our local traditional markets or barbers, for example.
2. Don’t we waste our time memorizing some social facts such as geography, history, and economic facts? When we mention the word social, it will involve people’s interaction within their society. Therefore, showing some extent of social fact knowledge might give certain contribution towards our interaction with others. In addition, we won’t know that those facts might be useful for our own benefits. For instance, elementary school age children should have known the name of their country, capital city, and the leading prime minister, president, or king at their time. Later, when they talk with other people relating that common facts, they can understand and participate well. Thus, they will increase their own confidence in their conversation. Of course, the extent of memorization depth and quantity depend on individual age, specialization, and necessity. There should always be the limit.
3. What about literary and religious writing, including the scripture? Memorizing literary writings, mostly poems, will help our minds to store the beautiful words so that we can be familiar with them, thinking about them, and use them in our life. Those literary writings also include the scriptures. In wikipedia,
Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition.
By memorizing the scriptures, we store the sacred words in our mind so that we can think deeper and realizing the words in our life.
Another issue of memorizing and drilling is that it will limit our creativity. Some people can be creative without any means or innately, but some others need help to be creative. However, knowing the basic theories or even memorize them will certainly give contribution for people to guide their creativity in the right or better ways. For example, when we meet a kid who loves writing stories, we should give them freedom to write. However, it would be great if the kids get familiar with the plot theory, so that the written story would be more systematically arranged.
Using modern methods and technologies in education world is great, but we still cannot leave memorization in our real life in fact. Therefore, we still need to train our brain memorizing things to be combined later with the modern methods and technologies in the education world. Of course, we should not make the memorization as a burden, but we need to get them done with more mature understanding about its importance.