TED Conversations

Tori Reid

This conversation is closed.

What if there was a universal method of memorization that could be implemented in primary and secondary education institutions everywhere?

My theory is that U.S. schools, among others, deliver information to children without actually giving them the necessary information/tools needed to learn to retain said information. College students on a 15 credit-hour schedule are told to spend 15 hours studying outside of class, or more.

Yet so many of these students don't have that kind of time, or energy. This is an ongoing and natural human condition in education.

What if there's a solution? What if the reason students must spend so much time studying is due to never having been taught how to properly use and operate their memories? What if there was a way to reduce the average study time by 60% or more, and keep, or even raise grades simultaneously?

How worthy would this method be, and what should be done with it?

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Closing Statement from Tori Reid

There is actually evidence of such a method, for those who are in doubt. One that is universal and useful for anyone with average or higher IQ.

As far as it not being useful, while critical thinking is definitely needed in education, one can't deny the need for memorization. Student tests are made of multiple choice questions that require students to recall definitions. Doctors must remember symptoms so they don't have to consult literature at every turn, lawyers must remember laws in order to make a case and argument on the fly, etc. there is no denying the need for an aptitude for memorization.

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    Apr 12 2013: Seems like a good question to pose, but I must then ask you: Is accurate memorization and regurgitation of information what defines success in education? As educators, I believe we're called to mentor and raise future leaders and participants of society that can do more than just memorize information. Memorization is a vital part of our lives no doubt, and it can help us get far in the academic world we are placed in (for us Canadians, minimum of 12 years!) It will place us in good schools and perhaps even good jobs. But when faced with real life conflict that is not so coherent with the textbooks we've studied, would we then feel the need for something more than our memorization skills? What about critical thinking, creative problem solving, and so on?
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    Apr 11 2013: I doubt that a single system of memorization would work best for everyone, but I am much more doubtful that memorization accounts for a very large part of study time for most students. When I look at my three kids, aged 15-26 or consider my own education, most homework time was spent reading, doing research, thinking about course material, writing papers and analysis of laboratory experiments, and doing problem-solving in the context of problem sets.

    Foreign language does involve a lot of memorization and some history classes seem to as well.

    Many if not most colleges have study skills resources available to their students that likely offer a variety of systems of note-taking, test preparation, and organizing work efficiently. If you are a college student, have you checked into what your college offers in this respect?

    I know you posed this question asking us to assume skillful memorization was the key to efficient study, but to me this seems quite far from reality, at least for me, my students, and my kids. There is no better way of remembering useful content in a discipline than using it consistently. If you are using material, you are unlikely to forget it.
  • Apr 12 2013: Read books by Tony Buzan and Harry Lorraine.
  • Apr 12 2013: Actually, human brain always relies on memorization to keep going on in daily life.

    For instance, you go to a café. You do it for the first time by yourself when you're maybe 8 to get your mum's coffee at Tim Hortons. You get used to that routine everytime you go there. You know you just need to go to the counter, say what you want, they give it to you, then you go back to your table with your donut and coffee. One day, you decide to go in a different café and you do the same you always have, that is, to go to the counter to order your food and drink. But OOPS! They serve at tables. Next time you'll come here though, you'll remember and go sit. There is a different procedure that has been integrated in your memory.

    That's how the brain works everyday. If you do something similar over and over again, your head will rely on previous experiences to help you out and prevent you from thinking. However, when you're exposed to something new that requires thinking and analyzing new information, it takes more energy and more effort from your part to comprehend what's going on; the situation is being integrated in your working memory. This is the immediate space you've got to take pieces of information and work with them at the same time. The good news is we can train students to increase the amount of elements they can store in their working memory. This is a more complex problem that I won't explain here, but we need to remember that memory has to be trained. It that sense, Fritzie is quite RIGHT. Students need to memorize stuff and test their limits if they want to get better at it. That's how our brain works!

    Trick is, it is up to teachers to create activities and situations where they can use and reuse information in new ways.
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    Apr 11 2013: Different people are able to memorize at vastly different rates, not to mention different methods.

    Besides, in the modern world, information is too readily available, making memorization far less useful. Education is better spend on learning to think critically rather than amassing data by rote memorization.