America is facing a serious epidemic within our school systems. The catalyst of this epidemic, is the recent learning philosophy we’ve instilled in students’ minds, that the way to learn is simply through memorization.
Memorization, while it may work for the 30 minute test, will not work when we send our children, siblings, cousins, nieces, and friends into the real world. The workplace, and the world call for, rather, demand the ability to problem solve and think beyond an answer that would be typically found directly from a powerpoint.
However, it is not just the students that have allowed this situation to unfold. The teachers are an unwilling carrier of this epidemic, like a person unaware they are carrying a fatal disease, and if we do not figure out the root of this problem, then whole school systems will collapse under memorization madness.
What students may or may not realize, is that teachers receive grades as well.They are based on the performance of their students, and the overall grades they receive. The better the students do, the better the teachers do. This system creates the incentive for lackluster memorization. That is why they are so willing to give answers on a Powerpoint, to give guided notes, and encourage that students memorize answers for a test. It yields the short term result, that makes both student and teacher content, but any hope for long term retention of the material will flee through classroom doors if we allow this way of instruction and learning to continue.
Since the implementation of Common Core in school systems in 2009, our schools have put an emphasis on the idea of memorization as a method of success. According to hechingerreport.com , the US has more memorizers than any other country. And though our school systems have been widely praised, we are doing a disservice to those who will leave through our facility doors.
Memorization will ultimately limit the ability for a student to think beyond an issue. Our school system discourages creative, critical thinking, thinking that serves to solve real world problems, but now causes to confusion in the classroom.
Here’s a story: I was studying chemistry with my sister, she had a higher GPA than me at the time, and she was trying to teach me the concepts I was having trouble retaining. She explained something to me, and I asked her, “Why? Why is it like that? Why is that the answer?”. She replied to me,
“I don’t know. Just because. Because that is what the teacher said, and that is the way it is.”
She was a victim of memorization.
Memorization discourages further understanding, the ability to desire learning, and today, students are simply learning, for learning’s sake. Not because they desire to know more about the world, but because that’s what will get them the grade. Their learning does not go beyond the flashcard, beyond the test, or even beyond the classroom. They are not curious about the world around them because their brains are trained to, frankly, be lazy. The fast learners, the students who make the grade first and do not question the information, are valued more over the ones who think deeper and longer. With the competitiveness between students, and between schools, it may cause a student to adopt the memorization method, simply to keep up with those around them.
Think about this: during your childhood, you are encouraged to make believe, color, and watch vivid cartoons. By 2 years of age, about 80% of your brain is already developed. It developed while playing pretend, while coloring, and living with no idea that the world isn’t fairy princesses and magic. Our brains were built on make believe, and as we grow, we should be encouraged to expand that form of play into something that goes beyond formulas and textbooks. Something that does not say, “well, that can’t be, it doesn’t make sense.”… Instead, we should say, “Why does that not make sense? Could it make sense? And How?”
Children are built to ask questions, but teenagers and young adults have been programmed to only answer them.
The world is not in your textbooks, flashcards or powerpoints. It is out there, and it is real. The world embraces the thinkers, the ones who break the mold of memorization; the scientists, the doctors, the political figures, and I would encourage our schools to see that future in their students and to do the same.
Thanks for Reading!
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