In centuries past rote learning, also know as memorization, was a key tool in educating students. From poetry recitation in the school room, to catechisms in the church chambers, teachers understood the power and benefit of memorization. In the early 1900s, however, a faulty philosophy began to emerge. A group of "experts" started spreading the idea that students needed to be creative and have the freedom to "think outside the box". So why burden students with the task of memorizing seemingly random, useless bits of information?
But let's pause for a moment and consider how memorization actually nurtures, rather than stifles, creativity and free thought. Let's suppose I decided to create a piece of pottery. I sketch in my mind the shape, size, design and color I wish to produce. In this thought process, I'm being "creative". But there comes the moment when I must sit behind the potter's wheel and start with a lump of clay. No matter how many wonderful designs I capture in my mind, I must always start by shaping the clay. I have to have something to start working with.
So here's the "aha" moment: if we want our students to be creative, they must have something to work with! That "something" happens to be historical dates, multiplication tables, scientific laws, geography, poetry, scripture, etc. Only then is the mind truly free to be creative. Yes, memorization takes time, discipline, and effort, but the results are quite beautiful. Don't be afraid to go "old school"!
*If you are interested in an in-depth read of the history of memorization, or need to be convinced of it's importance, I found this article quite informational.
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