So much emphasis in formal education seems to be on memorization. Memorization of facts, dates, formulas…the list goes on.
Often students are encouraged to memorize data and this is thought to be a measure of learning. The use of this is mostly so they can then take an exam and get a passing grade. If they can parrot the facts, they must know the information, right?
The result may be that the exam score is good, however the student’s memorization of data isn’t the same thing as being able to think with it, use it to solve a problem or imagine how something could (or couldn’t) be that way. Thus so much memorized information becomes lost to a student as time goes on; it has no relative use to him as it was purely just memorized and its value on life and livingness was never really learned.
This isn’t to say that memorization is totally useless in the process of learning something. It definitely has its purposes. A child memorizes the ABCs and then learns by memorization the individual letters and their names. This is all a precursor to learning phonics and how to read, and knowing the alphabet cold is a huge help when putting letters and sounds together to read and spell words. However, memorizing the ABCs and singing the alphabet song does not mean one can then read or spell. Memorizing sight words isn’t a replacement for reading comprehension.
Memorization is a tool to be used as a springboard for further learning. But it will never be a substitute for real learning and understanding.