I have read many articles — too numerous to mention — bashing focus of education on memorization. You would think from all of these articles that all teachers ever demand from students in school is memorization. Now, I know some school systems are not as good as others, as such may be characterized by inordinate focus on memorization. The fact of the matter is, however, that the capacity to retain information is an important component of knowledge acquisition and protection. Without training ourselves in retention of knowledge via development of our memory function — an objective requiring of training in memorization — our capacity for retention of knowledge is weakened.
Consider that a married man with four children thinks about finances, keeping his wife happy, taking care of his children, loving his children uniquely in context of their specific differences, building work related relationships, building family related relationships, recreation, exercise, work, volunteer coaching of his children and other kids at say, soccer, this after an exhausting 8 hours at work, promotion, income, maintaining a home, yard work where applicable, knowing which neighbors enjoy been greeted, and which would rather you bugger off etc.
If the mind is not prepared, such that it possesses intrinsic capacity for retainment of knowledge, all of life’s challenges later in life can weaken capacity for application of knowledge.
Only knowledge that is remembered can be applied.
As an educator, I am appalled whenever I build on something I taught during a prior semester and my students appear not to have any recollection of it. If they do not remember after one semester, how ever would they remember 10 years down the road when they are pressed down with challenges of life? Memorization is not about mindless repetition. Memorization is applied to content that is understood, with the objective that it is easier to remember content that is valuable.
Phone numbers are valuable, yes, but they never have to be applied, are data points, not knowledge. I never attempt to memorize a phone number. My mind needs that space for more valuable stuff. I always can look up a phone number. If I remember a phone number it is because I use it frequently.
Memorization of valuable knowledge serves to safeguard us much later in life when the mind is weighed down with challenges of life.
Granted, focus on memorization alongside development of innovativeness ought not to progress beyond High School. Increasingly also, it is expected that there will be more of a shift from focus on memorization to development of analytical and critical capacity as education progresses from Elementary School through High School then on to College. Regardless of importance of development of innovative mindsets, and development of either of analytical or critical capacity, development of memory is critical both for capacity for accumulation of knowledge and capacity for safeguarding of accumulated knowledge in middle age and beyond.
Education is supposed to achieve many objectives, such as development of innovative mindsets, and development of analytical or critical capacity. Development of memory is as important an objective as the other three seemingly more glamorous objectives. After all, what good is analytical or critical capacity or innovativeness of mindsets if we lack capacity to remember principles we need to apply in course of demonstration of stated glamorous capacity?
As an educator with over 15 years of post PhD experience, I dare say many persons writing about education do not have a proper understanding of purpose of each stage of education. For an article which addresses some of the objectives of each stage of education, check out this Medium post by my good self.
For those who understand its purpose, its how, its ethos, formal education possesses tremendous value for enhancement of life.
Oh, and by the way, the most important love we get out of education is love of reading. If we do not read, our minds may have capacity to remember, capacity for analyzing of knowledge, or capacity for criticism of knowledge, yet without feeding of our minds with knowledge, particularly new or relatively unfamiliar knowledge, inherent capacity of our minds remains undeveloped, remains untapped.
With all of your getting of formal education, or giving of formal education to your children or others, let not the objective be deficient of love of reading.
In all of your getting of formal education, let love of reading be of paramount importance.