Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Memorization Coming Back into Vogue

Billions of new taxpayer dollars have been flowing into so-called "education reform," so people have a right to expect that this will improve academic achievement. We are constantly told that more education is the key to more prosperity and more jobs. But those billions are not making kids smarter. One reason is that the education establishment is constantly plagued with new fads that are untested and just don't work. Let's take one example.

For years, memorization has been looked down on and out of use in public schools. Students are not regularly tested to see if they can recall new material. Instead, it has become trendy to use learning methods such as class discussion or what is called concept mapping. Drawing so-called concept maps is an especially trendy learning method today. For years, teachers have been told that those activities are superior to old-fashioned memorization.

However, stay tuned. A new study has discovered that teachers who don't use memorization are denying students a valuable learning tool. Recall exercises actually help people learn. This new research, which was published in the prestigious journal called Science, found that students who took a simple recall test after reading a passage retained 50% more of the material a week later than students who used those so-called more modern methods. Moreover, students who used recall quizzes as a study tool were also better at connecting multiple concepts from the text.

These results have thrown down the gauntlet to so-called progressive educators, who are stunned at this research. For years, teachers have been taught to believe that children should discover their own ways of learning, instead of learning from the wisdom of the past.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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