Does it make sense to memorize?

words Al Woods

For more than 100 years, educators have debated the pros and cons of memorization as a learning aid. Billions of schoolchildren all over the world still memorize mathematical times tables and a few other hold-over items from the era when memorization was a huge part of early education. Today, instructing students to commit information to memory is frowned upon, and a few experts even say it’s harmful.

But in a number of classic-themed schools, the practice is making a comeback. Its advocates say that now, more than ever, the art of mental recall is necessary to counteract the reliance on computer-aided learning devices. One study showed the glaring difference between the old way and the new by discovering that in the 1970s, kids routinely scored in the 90 percent range when asked to name all 50 U.S. state capitals. In 2015, fewer than 5 percent of youngsters in the same age range could match that feat. What are some of the practical benefits of having a healthy memory?

How Memory Affects Mental Health

Doctors say that the better our ability to remember words, numbers and ideas, the better our overall state of mental health. In fact, when we begin to lose that ability, we’re possibly displaying signs of dementia. If you have trouble recalling recent events and conversations, speak with an Oakland therapist and find out if you are possibly suffering from the early stages of dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. A simple, 5-minute oral or written test can reveal whether your problems of recall are temporary, serious or possibly related to a physical ailment.

Performance in School

Schoolchildren can learn not only times tables and state capitals but important geographical data, essential facts about history, grammar rules and math formulas. One of the interesting things about using a rote method to implant something in your mind is that the data seems to absorb deeply into the brain. That’s probably why many adults who memorized times tables and other equations do well in advanced courses.

Productive at Work

Law schools fell into the new wave of education from the 1970s onward and emphasized the comprehension of concepts rather than rote learning of famous cases and legal milestones. When it became apparent that at least some amount of recall was of practical use, schools swung back toward the use of the old method, where law students had to know important dates, landmark cases and lists of crucial facts.

Part of Daily Life

Have you been to a grocery store lately? It’s populated by those who wander and stare at the list of items on their smartphones. That’s probably no worse than the same carrying note cards, but the point is if you can remember 12 items on a list of items you need to buy, maybe your brain is working at a higher level and is capable of other feats of intellectual strength. We remember all sorts of things without realizing it, but the advent of mechanical brains i.e., smartphones, lets us outsource what used to be a uniquely human task.

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