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Is there any benefit to memorization? - Page 2

post #21 of 47
I think that memorization can be incredibly useful, and valuable in its own right. First, memorization involves a level of precision that is rarely seen in other areas-- so much of memory is just kinda-remembering, or loosely paraphrasing. To memorize something is to really learn it, especially if it goes hand in hand with careful study of *what* is being memorized. (i.e., it is not so useful to memorize a Shakespearian monologue if you don't understand what the character means by it.) Memorizing the preamble to the Consitution or the Declaration of Independence and, in the process, to understand what each line means, will bring a greater understanding of both than to just read through it once or twice. This is especially true for math-- precise memorization of the times tables is essential; knowing that 6x9 is... between 50 and 60 will really slow you down later on.

Also, being able to memorize things (or even just remember them!) is a skill, and the more it is developed the better it works-- like any skill, of course. Sometimes it is not the knowledge itself (Bible verse, poem, etc) that is so valuable but the practice of learning something to the point of being able to absorb it entirely and reproduce it. If this is done enough it becomes easier, and it's a great skill to have as an adult, no matter what your line of work.

And memorization can be fun, especially for kids. To successfully memorize something is a concrete accomplishment, something to be proud of or even show off. It can be very meaningful, as previous posters pointed out; I have in memory several bits of Shakespeare and some Robert Frost poems (the shorter ones ) that I get great comfort from. I'm sure for religious folks it's the same with favorite Biblical verses; being able to recall them at will is amost like meditation.
post #22 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by VanessaS View Post
So you are assuming that "colored people" (such as I) should stick to reading Angelou, Hurston, and Douglas?
Holy toledo, where did you get that impression? First, we're not talking about reading in this thread -- we're talking about the value of memorizing literature. And secondly, I believe the point was that by defining 'civilized conversation' as the ability to recite Shelley and Shakespeare puts preferential value on things Eurocentric.

Miranda
post #23 of 47
Well... I disagree with the blog entry, but I do think memorization is a handy talent (as are things like singing in key and not getting lost in strange cities). I enjoy having my own "library" of memorized bits in my head, for me to take out and enjoy whenever and wherever. I can think of only one that I memorized as part of schoolwork - it's a very small poem about a spider that I learned in first grade. The rest was learned because I wanted to know it - including song lyrics, poems, dialogue from movies, quotes, bits of Shakespeare, and so on.

Rain started doing theatre when she was fairly young, and her first role was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz... a 60 page script, and she was on almost every page. She was seven, I think. This semester she's memorized 4 or 5 long speeches from Shakespeare, as well as at least one sonnet, for her theatre class. I suppose if one wants to do theatre, memorizing is important.

And, really, what fun is Rocky Horror if you don't know the words, and of course the easiest way to find other unschooling-ish homeschoolers in a crowd is to shout out, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya...." and waiting for someone to finish the line...

Dar
post #24 of 47
Quote:
Holy toledo, where did you get that impression?
It just really grated on me. I've run into enough people IRL who assume that black people wouldn't be interested in reading "Eurocentric" literature. Sort of a ghettoization of art.

Quote:
First, we're not talking about reading in this thread -- we're talking about the value of memorizing literature.
Usually things that are interesting to read are later memorized so I assumed the point was applicable.

Quote:
And secondly, I believe the point was that by defining 'civilized conversation' as the ability to recite Shelley and Shakespeare puts preferential value on things Eurocentric.
The author mentioned Shakespeare (which has been translated into almost as many languages as the Bible, which shows it's universal appeal and lack of Eurocentricity) but did not limit himself to it.
post #25 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by VanessaS View Post


So you are assuming that "colored people" (such as I) should stick to reading Angelou, Hurston, and Douglas? Avoid Shakespeare, Dickens, and Austen like the plague? Good literature is good lit, regardless of the color of the author. I believe you are also assuming that "colored" authors have never written lit that is regarded as being "classic". Ever heard of Martin Luther King Jr.? He's written some of the most remarkable speeches of our time and they are definitely regarded as classics (my German relatives recognize them even). In fact, quite a bit of "colored" lit from America and England has been translated to foreign languages and been block-busters around the world. One of the WORST things you can do for a child is to limit them culturally to "their own stuff". Homeschooling should be about expanding our children's horizons, not shrinking them.
nak
Not the person you quoted, but I didn't interpret her post like this at all.

Did you read the article Chinese Pistache posted? In there it is suggested that some Americans cannot speak or read comprehensible English, and that memorizing verses from classics would remedy that problem. I think fourlittlebirds was simply saying (and I agree), that the problem could be addressed by simply reading, and understanding - no need for memorizing. The type of forced memorization described relies on the teacher to choose what is a classic and worth memorizing. It would be a shame if that were Eurocentric.

I hate using anecdotes, but I am going to anyhow... My mother has memorized *tons* of poems and verses (schooled in the 1940s), loves their beauty, and recites them all the time, but uses poor grammar in her own speech (e.g., "She don't know") and cannot "manufacture" poetry or even beautiful speech of her own. I memorized next to nothing literary, ever (schooled in 1970s and 80s), but my grammar is usually impeccable and I write decent stories and poems and speak relatively well in front of large groups. One big difference: I read like it was going out of style, and my mother never has done that. I think reading and comprehending is far more important than memorizing. I think of memorizing as important as a means to get somewhere else, not as an end, worthwhile just for the sake of learning to memorize...

As an aside, I memorized the periodic table in grad school and it is so useful for me now (weird, but true!), so I really dislike that Pepsi commercial where they dis memorizing the periodic table...
post #26 of 47
Thread Starter 
Whew! We've all been sick, so I haven't been back since I posted last... WHOAH!

I guess what I'm seeing here is that there are different "definitions" of memorization. As in some appear to view it as forced regurgitation of information. Some appear to view it as "remembering" those things that we learned and find valuable (or interesting ~ 'cause really, how useful is it that I have every episode of Law & Order memorized!?!? ). Then there's some spectrum in between.

I worry, b/c I was "forced" to memorize things, and yet, cannot retain most of that information today (like the aforementioned bible verses, multiplication tables, periodic tables). I know that it is because on some levels the topics did not interest me (I loathe science), I didn't learn like that (I see math on a physical level, not just lists of numbers KWIM?), I wasn't given the time to examine them fully (bible verses learned in time for next weeks' confirmation class and then never used or spoken of again).

I sincerely appreciate all of your input. This is a wonderful discussion!
post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by maplesugar View Post
I do think memorization is very important, and sadly is going out of syle these days. Back in olden times, people had to memorize a lot more as there was no television, news, etc, or even books a lot of times. So they memorized important things in order to preserve knowledge that we take for granted. Think of the ancient bards and Greek poets and such who would memorized huge amounts of information because this was all they had- the power of their memory. I think modern humans are loosing this ability while admitedly other parts of their brains are growing.
I have always been great at memorizing, though.
My grandfather has memorized amazing amounts of information in his life and I think it is so cool to listen to the information he can pass on.
Also I think the things we memorize as children we will never forget. I will encourage the skill of memorization in my children...
Certainly, different strokes for different folks. We all have our unique gifts.


Also, memorizing basic math facts is a necessity if one goes into any field that uses higher math.
post #28 of 47
I disagree that memorization of math facts is at all important, particularly when undertaken purposefully. I know my math facts not because I drilled and memorized them (I'm serious - by a quirk in the timing of a transfer from school to school, I entirely missed when the other students were taught times tables!), but because I understand the numbers in relation to one another and can quickly construct facts (like the times tables). Just like how when I took physics in college, I memorized only a few equations. If you understand why something would be true, you can come up with equations with extraordinarily little fuss (and bonus, you never remember the wrong equation).

There is a benefit to repetition, which is a different thing. I do think that a lot of memorization happens as a consequence of repetition, which is IMO totally fine and beneficial in terms of using our brainpower to best effect. Memorization for the sake of memorization is one thing, memorization as a side effect of necessary repetition is another. My kids know basic math facts because they're repeated them over and over in everyday life; they know the spellings of some common words because they've written them over and over. This isn't a bad thing. And I do think that kids are great at memorizing things and enjoy it - I just disagree with the concept of *making* them memorize stuff.
post #29 of 47
Whike this is niether here nor there, my favorite childhood mnemonic memorization is:

Divorced, beheaded, died
Divorced, beheaded, survived.


Ok, it's macabre, but I never forget the long-sufferring wives of Henry VIII.

Which you need to know to get through life, kwim?

Which reminds me:


Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee
Harry, Dick, John, Harry Three
One, two, threeNeds, Rchard Two,
Harries Four, Five. Six- then who?
Edwards four, five, Dick the bad
Haries twain and Ned the lad
Mary, Bessie, James the vain
Charlie, Charlie, James again
William and Mary, Anna Gloria
Four Goeorges, William and Victoria
Edward, George, the same again
Elizabeth the second, long may she reign!




UUMom, mistress of unimportant info.
post #30 of 47
I will always feel grateful to Mrs. Tuma who insisted that we memorize "The Preposition Song." (to the tune of yankee doodle)

around, across, above, about,
to, for, from, by, on, toward,
beneath, before, behind, between,
beyond, against, throughout.
Over, down, among, up,
with, of, except, upon,
till, at, beside, under,
without, along, near, in!

They're all there, which is incredibly handy for later testing and sentence diagramming but not very useful, I suppose, outside of school. Still, I plan to teach it to my kids.

My dd is almost 8, and we haven't done any mandatory memorization. She likes to memorize, though, and does it without really having to try. She's discovered acting, which is promoting an interest in memorizing. She learned Jabberwocky the other day...it's awfully cute to hear her recite it, except that she'll do it for anybody whether they want to hear it or not. This to say, if it's fun then go for it.
post #31 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hera View Post
I
, I plan to teach it to my kids.

My dd is almost 8, and we haven't done any mandatory memorization. She likes to memorize, though, and does it without really having to try. She's discovered acting, which is promoting an interest in memorizing. She learned Jabberwocky the other day...it's awfully cute to hear her recite it, except that she'll do it for anybody whether they want to hear it or not. This to say, if it's fun then go for it.

Me, too. I love the preposition song. lol

And I love your Jabberwocky story. Last yr, when my youngest was barely turning 7, she memorized Poe's Annabelle Lee, just because she liked it. It was nuts hearing this tiny little thing reciting that little death ditty. Her 12 yr old brother had memorized The Raven, and she wanted in.

She still remembers the first 3 stanzas. She's a geek who loves Poe, and I cannot lie.
post #32 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
We are unschoolers, but I do see value in memorization. I think that there are bound to be times in a person's life when memorization of a large quantity of information is necessary (passing the written component of a drivers' test, memorizing product codes for a part-time job as a supermarket cashier, learning everyone's name at a meeting, eg.) and I think that by having had experience in the past, a child will better understand the strategies that suit him or her best.
If I had just memorized the dang times tables, math would have been a whole lot easier for me. The ability to think conceptually and problem solve was never an issue for me, but I kept getting hung up on the stupid basic stuff because I didn't have it at the ready in my mind. Yes, there is definitely a reason to memorize *some* things.
post #33 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by gcgirl View Post
If I had just memorized the dang times tables, math would have been a whole lot easier for me. The ability to think conceptually and problem solve was never an issue for me, but I kept getting hung up on the stupid basic stuff because I didn't have it at the ready in my mind. Yes, there is definitely a reason to memorize *some* things.
:

I truly don't understand how one could do higher math without having the times tables memorized. It seems like this simple memorization process could save one a lot of work in the future and i think childhood is probably the best time to to this as their brains are such sponges.
post #34 of 47
I've found the opposite... the higher you go in math, the less useful arithmetic skills are, and the more critical it is to be able to think logically. I regularly tutor high school kids in Calc II and Stats who don't know their multiplication facts from memory, but they all have calculators so it's never an issue...

dar
post #35 of 47
The algebra teachers at my school struggle daily to help students who don't know the multiplication tables learn how to factor so they can do quadratic equations. Calculators do not factor for you. I'm a fan of knowing the multiplication tables.

I think it's important to know how to memorize. I also think it's cool to have a store of memorized works (or snippets of them) in my head. It helps me participate in a larger cultural conversation. In fact, it helps me participate in several larger cultural conversations - it's a rare day when the Kipling and Shakespeare I have memorized and the scenes from Star Wars that I have memorized participate in the same cultural conversation. (Except, now that I think of it, when my DH and I are conversing in private.)

That said, I don't think you can only appreciate language and culture if you only have the right things memorized. For most cultural artifacts, I think it's well to expose children to them - they will remember and return to the things that inspire them, and will memorize what interests them most.
post #36 of 47
[QUOTE=stik;9419316]

I think it's important to know how to memorize. I also think it's cool to have a store of memorized works (or snippets of them) in my head. It helps me participate in a larger cultural conversation. In fact, it helps me participate in several larger cultural conversations - it's a rare day when the Kipling and Shakespeare I have memorized and the scenes from Star Wars that I have memorized participate in the same cultural conversation. (Except, now that I think of it, when my DH and I are conversing in private.)
QUOTE]

Yeah, and you can be a formidable contestant on Jeopardy! Or kick butt in Trivial Prusuit. Not neccesary, but fun IMO.
post #37 of 47
Okay, I should probably just stick to lurking, but I'm so glad I memorized all the states by learning that one song, "Fifty Nifty United States." I just wish all the capitals stuck.

Also, I teach literature at the university level, and in one class I assign memorizing a poem (of the students' choice) and then reciting it in front of the class for the final. I find it really kind of blows their minds -- they don't ever have assignments like that, and some of them really sweat over it, but I think it's healthy for them. I think it's a good thing to experience, at least once. And, it helps them confront the fear of public speaking, which I'm so glad I was forced to confront and get past over the years. I also give the option of a presentation on one of their papers if they really really really don't want to memorize a poem. But I find that most of them take it on and end up happy to have something like a Shakespearean sonnet or Dylan Thomas villanelle in their heads.
post #38 of 47
My son is 4 and every morning we do morning circle and I repeat a poem for a week or two and by the end he's doing it with me. We do lots of little songs like this too, and the poems often have hand motions. Him and his 2yo sister can be heard singing or performing them throughout the day. I dont know how its really beneficial for them, but they really enjoy it. They love "hush little baby" and "welcome the day" and "humpty dumpty."
post #39 of 47
I think repeated exposure that leads to inadvertent memorization is one of the best ways for kids to "memorize" stuff.

That said, memorization certainly does have a place. I think the thread focused mainly on memorizing literature - but memorizing things like basic math facts is important to. As much as I hate rote memorization, I can see it's value in math facts in particular. Yes, kids should know the founding concepts to things like multiplication and addition - but if they have their times tables and basic addition facts (to 100) memorized it can help them when they're facing more complex math problems (real life or "school") because they won't have to spend as much time figuring out the simpler components of the problem (such as 5x5) before tackling the more complex components.
post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post
The algebra teachers at my school struggle daily to help students who don't know the multiplication tables learn how to factor so they can do quadratic equations. Calculators do not factor for you. I'm a fan of knowing the multiplication tables.
Algebra is still pretty basic stuff... and there are some simple little programs that kids can download to their calculators that will solve quadratics for them... or you can use a chart... but really, solving quadratics is something computers do easily and human have to work at - it's computation, not thinking. If kids understand how to solve quadratics, that's the important part to me.

I learned Fifty Nifty, too! And I still remember the ststes, and it's useful for rivia contest.

Dar
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