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Ltryptophan's avatar

How would an education system benefit from a rote memory-centric teaching method?

Asked by Ltryptophan (11377points) 1 month ago from iPhone

In this system, some of the time it would be expected to be copiers with precision. It would be like teaching plagiarism. Students that failed to precisely duplicate correct answers or texts would be penalized in the grading. Then, later, this skill could be used to assist in accurate quotation and citations within scholarly papers.

For instance, a teacher might request each student find a poem, memorize it, and copy it in their own handwriting. Of course, with the real author getting full credit.

Emphasis would be on practicing to be like these role models. Like martial artists teaching repetitious forms this copying might arm students with proven successes.

Also, I see this already in art.

Not so much plagiarism, as it would be learning what works and naming it.

I offer that allowing this sort of copying would not hinder creativity, but instead give the creative mind a foundation to build on.

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10 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Just for entry level jobs. Eventually they would lead to creating new knowledge and expertise; as they master the skill.

Fast food restaurants who would like to standardize menu items would like your style of learning.

seawulf575's avatar

@Ltryptophan that exists already. I attended the US Navy Nuclear Power school when I was younger. One of the things they hammered into us was that if you were asked a question you had to give the exact answer. So if they asked you a definition of a term, you had to write down the definition 100% as they had given it to you. It couldn’t be close, it couldn’t mean the same thing…it had to be exact.

I lost points and almost failed my first test because I didn’t regurgitate two definitions exactly.

It can be a good thing or a bad thing. It could be a good thing (as it was for me) if the student is truly dedicated. They will work harder to make things exact. But I also saw a number of students that just gave up. They got discouraged by not being able to memorize things that quickly. Another problem I noticed was that we had a number of students who had almost photographic memories. They were scoring very high on every test, every subject. But at the end, there was a comprehensive test where you had to take all the things you had learned over the previous 6 months and put them all together. It was the test to see if you understood everything or just were good at memorizing. Several of these top scorers failed or nearly failed the comprehensive test because, while they could regurgitate better than a drunk eating a greasy pork sandwich, they couldn’t put everything together.

Rote memorization can be an effective tool, but should not be the only tool in the box.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@seawulf575 yes, I too see this especially where it counts.

I like the idea. Not as a holistic approach. Just as a type of shadowing. I think that is how we learn in nature as mammals.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Ltryptophan I have to agree with @seawulf575 on this.

Rote learning for certain actions and skills is pretty damned important.

But somewhere along the way, in most jobs, you have to make judgments and be analytical. In your example, you talk about copying poems and art – to me, that’s not being creative at all – it is narrowing the student’s scope of creativity to the way that others did it in the past.

Read Rand’s Fountainhead. Roark was rebelling against the (then-popular) way of designing buildings exactly alike – he was pushing for creativity and thinking out of the proverbial box.

Rote learning is a means of stultifying the future.

Ltryptophan's avatar


I understand the need for analysis, for creativity. You say yourself for some things it’s dire to have identically reproduced results.

I don’t have a conclusion on this.

I like the idea of having a set of hard faculties before you’re let loose to think outside the box.

JLeslie's avatar

In 6th grade for two weeks my teacher had us write in cursive while he dictated to us. The intent was to push us to take accurate notes faster. I know it worked for me, which surprises me. Very quickly I became a much better note taker.

Memory skills are very important in many jobs. I’ve been saying for years all these people saying there shouldn’t be tests in schools, and teaching to the test is bad, and just recently a Facebook post said all tests should be open book, well I say we should teach everything. Memory skills and critical thinking skills are both important.

People with strong detailed memories will go into different careers than people who can’t memorize as well.

You don’t want a combat surgeon to have a weak memory. Is he going to save your life in the emergency or not? At the same time he might need to improvise without a full operating room, so he needs to be creative and adjust.

Someone I know is working on a project that will enhance the sharing of information across different disciplines so that artists and engineers would be more likely to share ideas, and natural substances used in remote more primitive places would be better known to researchers and inventors in other parts of the world. A way to marry creative thinkers with people who tend to work in fields that dwell in known science.

LostInParadise's avatar

Rote learning was emphasized in the past. Now with Web browsers it is more important to be able to use information to draw conclusions and come up with new ideas.

kruger_d's avatar

Copying masterworks is a tradition in painting in particular and one that has value. But you can’t compare that to transcribing poetry. One can copy and memorize a poem without even knowing the language, let along comprehending meaning, cadence, tone, metaphor, stylistic choices. . .

Ltryptophan's avatar

@kruger_d that was a basic example for early education.

Smashley's avatar

Copying text is an underused tool for building writing and comprehension skills. I don’t know that they improve memory per se, but you can certainly learn a lot about how people write with such a very close reading. Extensive knowledge of a subject, more anything else, is the basis of creativity.

I always liked the Mentats from Dune. It was a culture that was focused around the technicical usage of the brain to perform complex caluculations and analysis. Functionaries in a future without computers for some reason I can’t remember. I’m sure some rote learning was a part of their training.

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