baali omar

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Do you think that obliging students to learn some subject by heart will make them successful students ?

I've been studying geology for three years and every year we face some subject in which we need to learn them by heart such as mineralogy which consists on learning the name of minerals and their chemical composition,we are obliged to do so if we want to achieve our exams, the issue is that at the end of the year or even after some weeks after the exams nearly all the students forget what they have learned.

  • May 24 2013: I agree with you. Rote learning or learning by heart does have a place. Learning through asociation would help retention of formulae and the like. In the process Learning with understanding is crucial.
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    May 24 2013: This is something I must say I have never understood. Not coincidentally, my degrees are in fields centered on problem-solving and critical thinking where memorization is entirely a non-issue. I totally avoided classes involving memorization. I can understand the value of memorization, of course, in a foreign language, as vocabulary must be memorized and in most fields one needs to learn the basic terminology.

    I have heard what you describe about geology. In fact someone I know told me she had majored in geology precisely because it was the only science one could do well in by memorization alone.

    I hope someone who is in one of the fields that involves massive amounts of memorizing can explain what the value is of such a focus on the memorization of large numbers of facts.
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    May 26 2013: More important

    is to understand the subject and

    to know why this subject is being taught.
  • May 25 2013: This happens commonly in many different subjects including poetry, chemistry, biology, medicine etc. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in some cases these things have to be known, e.g. a chemsit should know at what temperature and what catalyst is required to produce an organic compound, a doctor must know what certain symptoms imply and so on. Howver, the problem comes when this philosophy is imposed everywhere and the concept of education becomes fixated in this form of learning. By this form of learning I also include a tendency to get students to reply via standard, expected replies without any inherent creativity. This approach will sink education and produce robots without any kind of innovation or ability to adjust to the new as is required in industry or business. This way of learning has its place but a limited place.
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    May 25 2013: I personally split intelligence into these 5 parts :
    - Emotional intelligence.
    - Intelligence (Analytical + Practical).
    - Creativity.
    - Wisdom.
    - Memory. (Which the main focus of this question, if I understand correctly!)
    So I view it is worth noting that children (probably) won't be good at all these aspects.
    I personally do not believe that making students learn a subject by heart will make them successful (in general) at school. Considering under (my) module of intelligence, this is only one aspect.
    To make students truly learn something you have to make it interesting, or spark their passion (not rely on extrinsic motivators like Exams). So they can get into a state of "flow" more easily, thus being able to excel at that subject.
    Does this all make sense?
    I personally view that "learning subjects by heart" isn't the best way at learning a subject. It is like learning all the names of the nations in the world, yet not really learning anything about them.
    I hope I have helped (and not misunderstood the question!).
    So I don't believe that the current education system reflects the students true potential.
    A great read (on another concept) is :
    "Late Bloomers" (Why do we equate genius with precocity?)
    Kind regards,
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    May 25 2013: personally I can't stand the rote memorizing just because I'm not good on that and I reckon that this is not something interesting and it doesn't reflect the real ability and the intelligence of students.
    personally I'm thinking to enroll in a business studying field what do you think?
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      May 25 2013: I think the study of business will involve little, if any, rote memorization. Coursework in economics, finance, quantitative methods, and "soft" social studies will be mostly analytical, and the core material will likely be based on analyzing cases, scenarios where you are given lots of material describing the situation and you need to figure out what you would do, typically as a team.
  • May 24 2013: It's all about achieving a balance. For instance I like the rhythm & rhyme of poetry, and the sheer sound of words which convey emotions and are evocative of situations. Yes initially it was a drill in school, but later on, with greater understanding, I looked on it as a bank from which I could draw upon for writing essays, articles and letters. It gives me a high when I can recall verses and associations at appropriate times. I try to impress this on my teachers and students in Chaitanya School, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, of which I am Director. I guess some of it is percolating down. But it has to be inculcated at a young age for it to be really effective.
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    May 24 2013: baali, I don't think one should ever just memorize. If one is memorizing terms, one should try to find out the background of the terms, the background of the words, where the words came from or were created, so that one understands the concepts behind the terms. This will give one a broader view of one's field.
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    May 24 2013: If it is matter of HEART no one can oblige anyone.
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    May 24 2013: I'm sure that memorization is important especially for literature and foreign language studying fields,but I believe that memorization is not holding a copybook or a book and start learning it by heart as if it's a holy book or something ,memorization comes with experience when we let the student participate in the course and encourage him to form his own book from what he sees during the class,or ask him to make some research about some topics and try to make a short presentation in front of the rest of the class for example... in that way memorization is gonna be linked to many details that student can't forget and it ll not be funny and the graduated person ll be someone who can discuss ideas related to what he studied not only being a professional in memorizing, ...I've another question , do you think that business is a field of study that requires a high amount of learning ?
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      May 24 2013: Baali, I don't think of what you have described just now as memorization, though of course learning involves retaining ideas in memory.

      I thought you were talking about the kind of rote memorization common to geology and history classes.

      I think functioning flexibly in any field requires continuous learning.