“Alexa, where is Connecticut?”
“Siri, is 2170 divisible by 7?”
In a world where every answer is available at the click of a button or a response from Alexa or Siri, how important is it for your child to memorize anything?
Well, the foundation of learning is memorization. Our brains want to gather, store, sort, manipulate, and retrieve information naturally. During pre-Google times, memorization was the center of education. We had to remember things because we didn’t have the option to look things up online. However, in recent times memorization is almost tainted.
Today, children have easy access to information. However, this information is often kept in short-term memory for about 30 seconds; it is not reviewed and stored in long-term memory, leading us to forget most of what we look up on the internet. We undoubtedly have information at our fingertips, but essentially know nothing.
Memorization makes information readily available for deeper learning and making connections to new material. Our brains need information so that it can begin to create neural pathways in the long-term memory and connect pieces of information with one another. We, as children, also began learning by memorizing the alphabets and numbers. Without this memory of numbers and alphabets, nothing would make sense in our daily life. The basics of math and reading, allows children to build upon their knowledge. For example, it is only when a child knows to count numbers can he add two and two to make four. Imagine relying on online sources for answers as simple as these!
Memorization is still important in the 21st century.
Here are some ways to effectively memorize and improve our cognitive skills
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Repetition creates long term memory by creating strong chemical interactions between the neurons in the brain. Children begin learning language and culture through nursery rhymes and stories, which they repeat continuously. They may not necessarily understand the meaning, but they are able to retrieve it from their memory because of the impact that repetition has on the brain.
Practice, practice, practice
While repetition leads to memorization of core concepts, as we grow older, we need to lessen the time to process regular information; making us ‘smarter’ or ‘faster’ which is perceived as a sign of high intelligence. This is evident in the speed requirement in competitive exams. Solving puzzles involving math, logic and language are important to process information fast. Practice makes us perfect and frees up the mind to learn other new things.
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Assign meaningfulness to things
New information is most strongly stored in the brain when it relates to information you already know, and this is done best when you assign meaning to new information. When asking your child to memorize your home address, you can help her understand why the address is the way it is. The name or number of the building you live in followed by the street name the building is on etc. The more logical connections a child can make to the new information, the stronger the memory.
Use memory devices
There are many different devices you can use to help memorize information like flash cards, mnemonics. For example, you can also use the sentence “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos” to remember the order of the planets in the solar system where the first letter of each word represents a planet. Chunking of information is also an excellent memory device. For example, it is easier to remember a spelling when you break it down like RE-COG-NI-TION rather than RECOGNITION.
Skills should be practiced over and over again so they become part of long-term memory. When you know your multiplication tables, you can easily calculate that in a class of 50 students it would be sensible to divide the children into groups of 5 or 10 rather than have 7 children in each group leaving 2 children behind. When you can use your core skills and connect the dots in real life, you make information into knowledge!
“Memorization isn’t anti-creativity or anti-innovation; it is the foundation of that process”
– Blake Harvard