Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Blogging Through the Alphabet: R is for Rote Memorization #blogboost

on July 16, 2013

Blogging Through the Alphabet


R is for Rote memorization.


I may get some apples tossed at me for saying this….but….I hate rote memorization.  Yep, there it’s out – have you ever heard a person say a rote prayer?  It really doesn’t mean much, just rattle it off and you’re done – no focusing, thought or feeling involved.  Now you can eat.


However,  I’m not focusing on rote prayers I’m thinking more on rote memorization of facts – which is what a lot of public, private and even home schools focus on.  It drove me nuts in school – especially the times tables – I just could not memorize them but it was forced on me – so I came up with short cuts to appear to know them so I could pass – I still don’t have them memorized.


I looked up the definition of rote (because I love definitions and finding out where a word comes from on Merriam-Webster online dictionary:


As a noun rote means:  “the use of memory usually with little intelligence” and “mechanical or unthinking routine or repetition”


So to do something by rote means that you’ve picked something up and can recall it but it doesn’t mean you’ve learned it – any child can say; “In 1492 Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue”, but does it mean that they’ve learned about Columbus or that they’ve learned anything about that year?  No, all it means is they’ve learned a little ditty and memorized it and can repeat it but there is no information to back it up.


I decided that my children won’t be learning rote memorization facts.  I’m not talking Scripture memory, that is something else entirely because memorizing Scripture also, for most us, involves some studying of what that verse means.


I’m not going to force them to memorize dates, I’m not going to force them to memorize multiplication facts, I’m not going to make them memorize every species in the world.  I can force them do these things but they learn more and they remember more without being forced to memorize.  I want them to know how to find the answer – even if they might take a bit longer than a peer, I’d rather know they knew how to get the answer, got it right, versus just knowing a random fact with no intelligence behind it.


Now, I’m sure someone is thinking well my child is intelligent and we do ‘rote memorization’ – I’m in no way doubting your or anyone’s intelligence.  Yes, my children have memorized facts but they may have to think a bit harder to know what 12 x 12 is – but they could tell you the names of Henry VIII wives (or at least my oldest can and maybe my middle) and put it into historical context.  My issue is if the child doesn’t have the knowledge to back up their memorization and they aren’t taught to find or how to find the answer and their memory fails, what are they left with?


Rote memorization comes in very handy if you’re a contestant on Jeopardy! or if you want to impress someone during Trivial Pursuit and I’m sure that knowing all your multiplication facts 1 through 12 can make dividing and percents much easier – but having gone what I went through in my school years I didn’t want to put my own children through that.


I love when they’ve memorized stuff and can pull it out when we’re watching a video on history or when we see a bird or when my oldest can help me with a fraction when I’m cooking – because I know they are learning and I know that it’s not just a random fact (although we all do rote memorization of things – those people on Jeopardy! don’t have intelligence behind all their answers) and I know rote memorization comes in handy at times too, however I don’t focus on it and I don’t teach it.






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