Is Memorization Bad for Learning? (12 Important Facts)
Memorization or rote learning is a learning technique where one repeats facts and figures over and over again. The repetition instills this information into the students’ memory banks. Rote learning or rote memory is used in primary, secondary, and tertiary education and is still the direct technique used in teaching most subjects.
While this learning method is necessary for remembering things, memorization is ineffective and may be bad for learning. This is because when you’re only memorizing information, you detach it from past and future learning. One can’t practice information they’ve memorized.
There are various reasons why memorization won’t help you learn. Here are some of the negative impacts of memorization on learning.
Memorization as a learning technique
Memorization works mainly with short-term memories. Thus, rote learning means repeatedly repeating what you intend to grasp to memorize it. Accordingly, you commit the information into your short-term memory bank.
The challenge with memorization is that you must continually repeat information to maintain it in the memory. You can cram for a test and remember the information for a few days until exam day. However, you’re likely to forget the information days or a month later.
Nonetheless, the best way to store the information in your long-term memory banks is by consistently using it. Moreover, you can use rote memory for long-term purposes, but that doesn’t mean you’ll remember the information forever.
Researchers believe memorization isn’t practical for learning complex concepts and information. It doesn’t allow long-term retention. Either way, reading fast and repeatedly is an effective way to remember things. You’ll be in a position to recall the facts after some time, and you can keep doing so until it sticks in your brain.
Some of the advantages of using memorization as a learning technique include:
- You train your brain to remember information.
- Memorization challenges and expands your brain.
- When you remember information, you free your brain to do other things.
- You develop focus through memorization.
- Rote learning prepares your brain for future learning with the help of tools such as a speed reading tool.
What are the disadvantages of memorization as a learning technique
There are some drawbacks to memorization too. One of its primary disadvantages is it doesn’t allow you a deep understanding of any information. You only get to memorize the bare facts such as multiplication tables or vocabulary.
In addition, rote learning doesn’t allow for complex connections between new and previous knowledge. It’s also challenging to understand a concept using rote memory entirely.
Other disadvantages of memorization include:
1. Memorization doesn’t offer knowledge
Memorization doesn’t offer sufficient knowledge. Rote memory only gives you a subject’s base figures and facts that you’ll only remember for a short period.
Moreover, you forget memorized information with disuse. In this context, the memorized information is just numbers, vocabulary, dates, or facts. It’s not a representation of actual knowledge.
2. Memorization isn’t a great determiner of one’s IQ
Typically, the only determiner of a student’s intelligence would be their capacity to memorize and churn out information. Thankfully, there are laws protecting people with learning disabilities. Memorization, thus, isn’t the correct way to determine abilities.
Many musicians, philosophers, painters, and scientists couldn’t memorize numbers or words. However, they still mastered their areas of interest.
3. Memorization isn’t suitable for individuals suffering from short-term memory loss
Rote learning doesn’t work out well for young children or individuals with short-term memory loss or other learning disorders. Learning from memorization depends on one’s ability to retain information.
Therefore, people suffering from an attention deficit won’t benefit from rote learning.
Conversely, some courses teach you how to improve your memory. With such an opportunity, you’re in a position to make your brain better at grasping information.
4. Memorization doesn’t derive knowledge from previously memorized information
When you present information that learners need to practice, they simply memorize it without much regard for the content. Furthermore, they can’t create real learning and just want to retain what they need in their minds. Thus, chances of learning the application of such material become minimal.
5. Memorization makes learners passive
Rote learning doesn’t allow students to explore and question. Their minds only receive and remember received information at the right time. These learners develop their writing and listening skills, not their questioning and thinking skills.
When pushed out of their comfort zones, passive learners become disinterested and quiet in whatever is happening around them.
6. Memorization discourages social skills
Research, group studies, and other factors that determine purposeful learning encourage learning from peers and socialization.
Memorization discourages social skills because you transfer information from a single source. It discourages discussions and any further learning through socialization.
7. Memorization only aims at scoring
Learning should promote understanding and base knowledge on approaching and solving challenges.
In memorization, the emphasis is on scoring high marks. The basis of an exam is the learner’s answer to a question, not their understanding of the concept.
8. Memorization doesn’t challenge the brain
Memorization only presents an answer to the learner with the expectation that they learn and reproduce the outcome as required. On the other hand, a meaningful challenge asks the learner to prove their answer.
A thinker is burdened with proving their answer and must provide a plausible solution to conclude. Conversely, in rote learning, there’s nothing the learner needs to prove. They already know the answer and are in their comfort zone while delivering their solution.
9. Memorization is repetitive
Rote learning involves the memorization of information and heavily relies on repetition. Thus, a learner must constantly reinforce certain bits of knowledge.
This repetitiveness hinders creativity and thought exploration when finding solutions to a challenge.
10. Memorization leads to convergent thinking
Memorization trains the mind to solve problems with a single correct answer. Meaningful thinking, on the other hand, allows the mind to reach different solutions by enabling the mind to solve problems.
If presented with a multiplication calculation, the rote learner gets the answer by recalling what they memorized.
On the other hand, the person applying divergent thinking arrives at a similar solution using a different method.
11. Memorization doesn’t allow connections to come up
Since memorization teaches the importance of one answer, individuals who learn this way can’t make mental connections. There is confusion between their knowledge and the solutions they need to offer.
Rote learners often reach solutions through other methods but are not exposed to alternative methods.
12. Memorization makes followers rather than leaders
Memorization involves the drilling of information. Thus, people involved in this system only follow instructions without the freedom to think independently. Also, they don’t have the option to explore a different solution.
When such people occupy management positions, they have shortcomings when showing leadership qualities. This is because leadership requires innovation and thinking outside the box.
Does memorization get in the way of learning?
There are advantages and disadvantages to rote learning. It’s effective in helping students understand basic calculations. However, some educators believe rote learning doesn’t promote critical thinking and limits student options.
Meaningful learning instead of memorization allows students to gain critical thinking and foundational knowledge. In this case, the learners connect new information with much older lessons.
Some of the characteristics of meaningful learning include:
- Active learning entails students using technology independently and regularly.
- Collaborative learning involves students teaming up and using specific digital tools to complete work.
- Constructive learning focuses on technology that adds more information to already acquired knowledge.
- Authentic learning involves using digital tools to connect to out-of-class activities.
- Goal-directed learning collaborates activities and goals with other monitored tasks to accomplish assigned homework.
Rote learning is one of the techniques students take advantage of to meet their academic objectives. But, a problem arises when these students drift away from meaningful learning and use it only to score good grades.
Such people hardly survive in environments where one needs to use reasoning abilities and visual thinking to accomplish tasks. Also, there may be instances where you’re required to work through a process in a strategy-driven manner.
The problem with memorization lies in how you implement it in learning and teaching. Thus, you must incorporate it with other learning methods like meaningful learning.
Iris Reading has many helpful courses to aid you to develop your learning skills. The Advanced Comprehension & Memory course is one of them. Enroll today to hone your meaningful learning skills.