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The memory game

When did the first world war occur?
What was Constantinople formerly known as?
When was the battle of Plassey fought?

We have such an obsession with facts that it puts our memory to the test.  Our examinations in subjects like history and geography like to encourage rote learning and reproduction.  Students who are good at cramming find it easy to vomit it all on the answer paper.  Memory is important but it should not form the basis of our education .

Is this real education?  Or should our children be tested on their understanding of the subject, thinking skills, teamwork, speech and drama,  elocution and other skills that may come more useful in life.

In some schools,  teachers are given an answer sheet to mark and sometimes answers that are different but correct are marked as wrong for the only reason that they do not match the answer sheet.   Students are taught from a tender age to follow standard procedures, and even told to reproduce exactly from the book.

All this talk of developing creativity is just an eyewash.  In true fact, few schools are taking the lead in inculcating and developing students who can think on their feet and out of the box.

Sometimes in life it helps to unlearn all the things that we have learnt, so that we do not hold preconceived notions in our mind when we are faced with problems.  We can then think in our own unique way and find our own solution to problems.

Even in our everyday lives we have to remember so many things:

  1. Your wifes birthday (better not forget that unless you want to be ostracised)
  2. Your anniversary
  3. Your grocery list (don’t forget this either unless you like to do a second round of shopping)
  4. Your passwords (nowadays there are so many email accounts, online banking that there are so many passwords to remember)
  5. Appointments, schedules, meetings

Today there are so many gadgets that there is no need to exercise our memory.  Our smartphones can manage all this information and we can retrieve all these at the tap of a finger.

Here is an interesting TED talk on how “Rote learning fragments the world”” by Sanjoy Mahajan:

 

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