As I prepare for another school year, books and paper strewn across my table, I often listen to podcasts absorbing words of wisdom from homeschool veterans and moms still deep in the trenches. I try to listen to a broad base of subjects and methods soaking in ideas and encouragement.
I want to share an insightful 3 part series of podcasts by Andrew Pudewa from IEW’s The Art of Language podcast. There are many opinions to the value of memorization in a modern education. I will not pretend to be an expert of the subject; I am very much a leaner.
Mr. Pudewa argues for the memorization of good literature (scripture, poetry, famous speeches) for linguistic development. He also reasons that to abandon memorization (including drills) limits a student curiosities because a student who does not have knowledge, does not know what questions to ask.
He explains that there are two ways that memories are formed: with an intense emotional connection or repetitious exposure. Various educational philosophies place differing emphasis on either methods-relationship and repetition. There are ample examples of students benefiting from an exciting experience with nature or a riveting biography, forever implanting that knowledge into memory. There is an equally firm belief based on academic history that recitation and drills greatly benefits a student in his or her education.
A student who does not have knowledge, does not know what questions to ask.
Wisdom keeps the pendulum from swinging too far in either direction. An education long on memorization and drilling facts can quickly become uninspiring and lacking. On the other hand there is some knowledge that is not naturally emotion all and lacks the intensity needed to plant it into the memory.
Let’s look at the concept of pi as a mathematical constant. I can present it to my children with enthusiasm. (“Isn’t if fascinating that God crested this seemingly magical number that is used in all equations involving circles? What would it have been like to discover pi? Do you think that there are other mathematical constants yet to be discovered?) But an “exciting” encounter with pi and a few equations were not enough to permanently etch “3.1415” and how to use it into their brains. It is one of the things we drill.
This is a great listen if you are considering adding memorization to your home, or if you are tempted to forego recitation all together. If you listen please be sure to let me know what you think! Continue reading “Memorization: Shaping Hearts and Minds”