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In Defense of Memorization

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm just passing on a link.

The Defense of Memorization

I found this to be an interesting and informative article.
post #2 of 10
I've been thinking about this a lot, since The Well-Trained Mind (which we loosely follow) has so much memorization in it.

On one hand, I have nightmares about long, stressful evenings when I was in school, desperately trying to memorize the capitals of African (or European, or Asian, or Latin American) countries in time for the test the next day, when I would regurgitate whatever I managed to memorize and then promptly forget them all.

On the other hand, I still remember some wonderful poems that I memorized along the way, in particular one in Nahuatl that is an ode to a mother. Plus, I have to say that even though I have long forgotten the capitals of those countries, if you were to mention one of them to me, odds are that I would be able to tell you what country, or at least what continent it's in.

So... I have decided that I will never recreate that first scenario with my kids. But I do like the WTM's suggestion that you simply read whatever is to be memorized several times a day until the child just magically repeats it back. DD has always loved memorizing poems, from the first time I read her a book of Mother Goose rhymes, she insisted that I read them to her over and over as she worked and worked to be able to repeat them.

And as we've gone through First Language Lessons, we've been reading the poems in that book over and over and the kids LOVE memorizing the poems. As they get older, we might try to do that with capitals and other such facts that are good to know. But I'll always let their interest be my guide.
post #3 of 10
I only skimmed the article so forgive me if I get it wrong but I really think that the problem isn't lack of memorization in schools/education today (who didn't have flash cards or have to memorize random map locations or science facts or whatever...). I think its more the dumbing down of education in general. Kids now (and in the past 20 years or so) don't memorize great poems or works of literature because they are not introduced to them til much later in their schooling (jr high or later) rather than right from the get go. And so often when poetry and plays are introduced its in a way that makes the kids enemies with it.

When it comes down to it you can force things into your memory short term but the only way they stay there long term and become cherished is if it was memorized out of love to begin with.

If that makes any sense at all...its 4:30 am and I'm only on the computer because I'm too sick to sleep...
post #4 of 10
just to throw it in--is the same introduction to culture / poetry / history possible without memorisation?

when the author talks about memorisation, does he talk about the outcome (i.e. perfect execution) or simply repeated exposure? and is the perfect execution more important than let's say, reading the same poem several times, with pleasure?
post #5 of 10
subbing
post #6 of 10
IMO, public schools lack enough memorization and enough quality memorization.

I am not sure how I feel specifically about poetry memorization, but I can imagine that such memorization would provide benefits beyond the expected. Children would also gain a sense of mastery, and would presumably have practice preforming such a piece. Lots of kids could stand to learn to make eye contact and to speak clearly when public speaking is required.

I also think that this done in a family setting is much different than in a classroom setting. My son would love if we each spent time memorizing a poem, reciting them at dinner. However I would never recreate (in my home) my high school French experience of sitting on a stool in front of the class being drilled and tormented.
post #7 of 10
we memorise poems for fun... I do it with my ds and we have fun learning it together. we also pick the poem together... we've done: the walrus and the carpenter, parts of the raven, in flanders fields...to name a few... I suggested jabberwoky recently and he said he already did that one without me and rattled it off! he is very proud when he recites poetry we settled on the 'to be or not be' passage from Hamlet for right now but the key is its by choice and itv a fun thing to do together...
post #8 of 10
I am a big fan of memorizing poems. I think it shows in the way my kids speak- they just have a more vibrant command of the language.
Dates and capitols though- I want them to know how to find them.
post #9 of 10
I think memory work is pretty important. I know there are many ways to help the memorization happen and that is key...but for me, a good base of letter names and sounds, along with math facts and basic writing rules make school life so much better for kids....And in my experience, the best way for them to have the comfort and benefit of those facts is to have memorized it.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by morning glory View Post
I only skimmed the article so forgive me if I get it wrong but I really think that the problem isn't lack of memorization in schools/education today (who didn't have flash cards or have to memorize random map locations or science facts or whatever...). I think its more the dumbing down of education in general. Kids now (and in the past 20 years or so) don't memorize great poems or works of literature because they are not introduced to them til much later in their schooling (jr high or later) rather than right from the get go. And so often when poetry and plays are introduced its in a way that makes the kids enemies with it.

When it comes down to it you can force things into your memory short term but the only way they stay there long term and become cherished is if it was memorized out of love to begin with.
I just skimmed the article, too, but I agree with this. When is there time in a typical school setting to work on memorization for the sake of love of learning, and not for the sake of regurgitating facts for a test? In my area, it seems everything is done towards the goal of looking better on a test (especially since there are failing schools in the district). Perhaps the rare teacher takes additional time to encourage memorization, but I can't see it happening too often in my neck of the woods.

That said, I'm not into memorizing poems and literary works for myself, but I did grow up with my great-grandmother who was well known for reciting poetry that she had memorized. She only had a 5th (possibly 8th) grade education in the segregated South, fwiw. My two older daughters have memorized things on their own because they wanted to, not because I encouraged it, and they have enjoyed it. My oldest memorizes things quickly, so learning poetry might be something she might enjoy, as well...

The only thing about that article....I took offense to the Bill Cosby reference in it, because first of all, it seemed to come from nowhere, and also because there are deeper issues than just memorization that cause the indifference that was described among folks who are just hanging out on a corner not speaking "proper" English. IMO, there isn't anything inherently wrong with speaking slang or a dialect, as the article seemed to suggest, and I don't think poetry is a cure. It's a whole lot deeper than hearing kids speak slang on a street corner and assuming these kids don't know how to properly function in 'mainstream' America. But that's a whole other ball of wax that doesn't belong in homeschooling.
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