US curriculum is one of the worst ways of “grading” one’s intellect. We use these ideas of memory and mimicking to prove ones worth on the academic battlefield. This brings rise to many flaws in the system and problems occurring in American teens. The most beneficial way to fix a broken system, such as the US educational system, is to switch the curriculum in a way that shows our knowledge on a subject by excelling in applying the knowledge in a way best fit for the student whether that be a project or research paper or real life application.

Ben Orlin, author of “When Memorization Gets in the way”, explains “Some things are worth memorizing–addresses, PINs, your parents’ birthdays. The sine of π/2 is not among them. It’s a fact that matters only insofar as it connects to other ideas. To learn it in isolation is like learning the sentence “Hamlet kills Claudius” without the faintest idea of who either gentleman is–or, for what matter, of what “kill” means…”. Memorizing is an important tool and a base to all knowledge but it isn’t good for growing in knowledge. Knowing a fact will help you know a concept but to understand it is to be able to apply it.

Memorization also causes stress in teens that can lead to things like cheating or a lack of wanting to learn. We strip general curiosity from our youth at such a young age and teach them its not important but we must we able to sit and learn facts we could look up in a minute. Teens our trained to only do what is necessary to get the grade and this is what can lead to cheating. Author of “I Cheated All throughout High school” states, “Sixty to 70 percent of high-school students report they have cheated. Ninety percent of students admit to having copied another student’s homework.” This is coming from a valedictorian of said high school, who claims to have cheated all throughout. He didn’t feel he was being tested on his knowledge just his trivial facts he had accumulated. I think the best way to rid US schools of this is to replace mindless testing with real world application in a way the student sees best fit. Of course they will have to demonstrate some form of mastery and effort but it allows students to rebuild the love for learning they lost and personalizes the learning for the student.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Why memorization doesn’t work by PJ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

8 Comments
  1. […] one of my earlier post “Why memorization doesn’t work” I addressed the issue that in the US education system we are essentially expecting kids to mimic […]

  2. Erica 5 months ago

    PJ,
    I appreciate your writing about this subject. I find that this is a very pressing issue in the United States right now. This is something I am also very interested in. I thought it was impactful when you said “US curriculum is one of the worst ways of “grading” one’s intellect. We use these ideas of memory and mimicking to prove one’s worth on the academic battlefield. This brings rise to many flaws in the system and problems occurring in American teens.” Also, I think you would find the article (http://time.com/2806663/american-education/) very interesting as it is about the problems with America’s education system. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  3. Sam 5 months ago

    I agree with you that there are some things we should have memorized, and there are other things that are just a waste of time to remember. Education shouldn’t be so much about the ability to memorize as it is to learn. Have certain things memorized can be helpful, depending on the future you are pursuing. However, like your example of the valedictorian states, these things can be avoided. This goes to show that the education system requires change. Thank you, this was a very compelling argument.

  4. Catherine 5 months ago

    PJ,
    I totally agree with you, I think that memorization is not the way to learn. I have been doing Theater since I was in fourth grade, and I’ve been in over twenty plays in my life in which we memorize scripts for every show, memorization works well in Theater because there is a natural flow to it, and the words don’t mean anything until the individual puts something of their own behind them. Whereas in school, having to memorize the chemical formula for nineteen different compounds and their atomic weights and a million other facts that you’ll never call upon again is much more difficult and not rewarding. We cannot put emotion behind the facts we learn in school because they are facts. We cannot add our own subtext because the subtext is already there and takes three hours of research to find. Schools using hands on activities and learning through experience as apposed to memorization I think is absolutely the way to go, it provides background for information in a way that memorization doesn’t. Not everyone’s brains work the same which I understand, but I think schools need to stop grading on memorization and start rewarding learning. This is a really interesting topic, you should keep writing about it in the future, because it really is a problem that needs to be addressed.

  5. Lilian 5 months ago

    Dear PJ,
    I am interested by your topic, “Why memorization doesn’t work” because it talks about how the U.S educational system is not good for kids. It shows how teens and kids can be impacted by memorization. A sentence that stood out to me was, “Memorization also causes stress in teens that can lead to things like cheating or a lack of wanting to learn”. I think this is very important because not memorizing something influences kids to find other ways to pass their classes like cheating or not wanting to learn. It can also lead to street which will affect their health. I agree with you that the U.S educational curriculum needs to be changed so kids knowledge can be apply in a subject that best fits the student. This way kids don’t have to tree on memorizing something because it might not even help them in their future. This topic is very interesting and true because many teens and kids feel this way. That memorization doesn’t help them study and just causes them to become cheaters. Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because it’s going to be another interesting topic. It’s going to contain good information that will help society.

  6. Oscar 5 months ago

    Dear Pj,

    I myself hate memorizing stuff, I find it a waste of tine to memorize stuff that we won’t even have use for in the future. There’s the internet now so all we have to do in order to figure something out is to search it up. Memorizing isn’t everything, when trying to memorize people tend to give up, or not even memorize it at all. This is why I believe that memorizing isn’t the way to go. Great article!

  7. Yadira 5 months ago

    Dear PJ,
    I am happy that someone is trying to inform people that the U.S. educational system is not a good way for kids to learn. A sentence that you wrote that stood out to me is “Memorization also causes stress in teens that can lead to things like cheating or a lack of wanting to learn.” I think this is showing that the memorizing stuff that are useless may cause stress on teen which makes them want to cheat more to get a “good grade.” I agree with what you are saying that the U.S. educational system sucks and it could be better. Another reason I agree with you is that the way U.S. is making the education system could make kids cheat more due to the fact they are stressing for memorizing the material given at school and wanting them to cheat more which is not a good way to learn. Thank you for writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because it seems like you care about education and kids.

  8. Thomas 5 months ago

    PJ, this is a very interesting topic, and I definitely agree with this. I hate having to memorize things when in any real world application you would be able to easily look them up. You might find this article helpful: https://medium.com/@finleyt/why-rote-learning-doesnt-work-and-what-does-work-4d890d7ca916 . I’m looking forward to what you will write next about this topic.

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