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.
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.
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.
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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.
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
Â Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler
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.
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.)
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Yeah, and you can be a formidable contestant on Jeopardy! Or kick butt in Trivial Prusuit. Not neccesary, but fun IMO.
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.
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."
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.
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
Â Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler
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
My husband (biomechatronics, Ph.D. in Physics) would strongly disagree. So would I, though he uses higher math everyday, hence my including him and his qualifications.
The higher you go in math, the MORE useful both arithmetic AND logical thinking are. One does not cancel out the other. You need both. Not knowing your basics prevents you from logically contemplating/exploring the mathematical topic at hand.
(Calc and Stats are considered an extension of basic math, by the way...higher math includes linear algebra, complexity of vector spaces, mathematical biology, etc...that was considered the case at both my Ivy grad school and my very un-Ivy undergrad institution).
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.
Math requires creativity.
It's thinking. Very hard, imaginative thinking.
Being able to turn a problem over in your head, and having the right language in your head to do so...that's the stuff that enables one to discover new mathematical formulas, to invent things, to discover new rules, to perhaps change the world a bit.
If adult Joe Schmoe is still punching in numbers on the calculator when it comes to 7 x 8...well, his chances for any scientific/mathematical/technical accomplishments are fairly nil...
Dh does not use a calculator at work. Neither do his grad students. There are equations (experimental) written all over the chalkboard walls of their laboratory. They all have the basics and not-so-basics down pat...and because they do, their imaginations can soar to explore new boundaries and test new theories and stretch what's already known.
It is unlikely you are ever going to GET to higher math without the basics being so ingrained you don't even have to think about them. That process starts with memorizing addition and multiplication tables.
It is along the same lines as people thinking that they don't have to know the material as well for an open book test. Most of the time, if a prof offers to let you have the book open, the test is going to assume you know the book already. Those people who understand the book (have it "memorized") are the only ones who are going to do well on the test because it assumes the base knowledge and is asking you to think. If you are still having to figure out the basics to even understand the question, you are not going to be able to finish the test in time.
Mom to 10yo Autistic Wonder Boy and 6yo Inquisitive Fireball Girl . December birthdays.
I can't really imagine anyone getting to graduate-level math courses for majors without memorizing math facts, without putting forth any additional effort, just because they're there... wait, I'll take that back. I dated an associate professor of mathematics (who should probably remain nameless) who couldn't correctly figure 15%... but perhaps he was just too dazzled by my beauty to think straight. Still, in K-8 basic computation with numbers is 95% of the math curriculum, and that's not at all true later on.
But since we were talking about high school math, the usual sequence is Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II/Trig, Calc, and then Calc II or Stats, with Pre-Calc possibly thrown in, or other stuff. Most kids stop after Algebra II/Trig, if not before... so my students have gone about as high as one can go in high school, and higher than many college grads will get, without memorizing multiplication tables.
Of course, they know some facts, and can probably quickly compute the rest - it's not like someone would say "8x7" and they'd sit there looking blank - they might actually be able to figure it out before anyone realized it wasn't memorized. One of these students was a national merit scholar... she also could not tell time on an analog clock, but she aced the SAT math section.
For many years I knew all the multiplication facts except 6x8, but since I've been doing test prep teaching and tutoring I've got that one down now, and I think I finally mastered the 12s, too, which weren't required when I was in school. I didn't work to memorize them, but as I needed to use them more, I did.
Dar
Â Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler
It is unlikely you are ever going to GET to higher math without the basics being so ingrained you don't even have to think about them. That process starts with memorizing addition and multiplication tables.
It is along the same lines as people thinking that they don't have to know the material as well for an open book test. Most of the time, if a prof offers to let you have the book open, the test is going to assume you know the book already. Those people who understand the book (have it "memorized") are the only ones who are going to do well on the test because it assumes the base knowledge and is asking you to think. If you are still having to figure out the basics to even understand the question, you are not going to be able to finish the test in time.
Well said.
Dar, so you're agreeing that memorization IS important. What you're describing is a different (longer) way of getting there.
Memorizing earlier gives one the freedom to go higher faster, and to understand something in depth (not just spit it out for an exam question).
My husband (biomechatronics, Ph.D. in Physics) would strongly disagree. So would I, though he uses higher math everyday, hence my including him and his qualifications.
The higher you go in math, the MORE useful both arithmetic AND logical thinking are. One does not cancel out the other. You need both. Not knowing your basics prevents you from logically contemplating/exploring the mathematical topic at hand.
(Calc and Stats are considered an extension of basic math, by the way...higher math includes linear algebra, complexity of vector spaces, mathematical biology, etc...that was considered the case at both my Ivy grad school and my very un-Ivy undergrad institution).
I agree. My dh is a structural engineer. His whole life is Math and other lives depend on it.
I'm an actress so memorizing things are well...vital. Also keeping your mind sharp will lesson the severity of illnesses like alztimers(sp) which my family has a history of. So even has adults its important to challenge our minds all the time.
Dar, so you're agreeing that memorization IS important. What you're describing is a different (longer) way of getting there.
I'm arguing that it's inevitable, in some situations, but no, not necessarily important... at least math facts. Many successful people don't know their multiplication facts - we had a poll about that here even. Clearly they didn't find it important.
For Rain, it's been important to memorize that names of various ballet and jazz moves (I'm sure moves is the wrong term, but it works) and also various short and long combinations of them. She never sat down with a list of them, but if you call out one she could do it, and dances are simply sequences of moves.
I think people naturally memorize what's useful or enjoyable for them to know, whether it's multiplication facts or Hamlet's speeches or the schedule of PBS kids' shows. I don't agree that it has anything to do with a depth of understanding. It can allow you to go faster, but so can other tools, like books or calculators.
Dar
Â Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler