What exactly is Rote Learning?
We are all subject to learning and memorising new content on a daily basis. Memorising is part of our evolutionary process so that we can internally map the directions we travel in both physically and mentally so that we can return easily, we all need to memorise things to survive.
Memorising content is specifically important within education and any learning matters, as without the ability to memorise and recall content we would be lost in many ways similar to dementia sufferers.
We have something called rote learning, which is a specific process for memorising data. Another name for rote learning is ‘learning by repetition’.
Memorising material is the result of repetitive reading or recitation using various learning tools. A student who studies through any form of repetition will imprint data into their memory banks with the intention of accessing and recovering that information as and when needed.
The downside to rote learning which has often been criticised for going over material such as the repetition of paragraphs will only cubbyhole or parrot the data without actually properly absorbing and understanding or knowing the facts being read.
Additionally it does not promote reflection or any natural analysis and challenge within that learned information which again is a natural process where we take information that we either don’t fully understand or accept and we tear it apart to either find and except it, gain an understanding within it or create a new angle of understanding for ourselves or others. The rote learning process does not encourage this.
Rote learning is a fast way of memorising material and has its rightful place in education and development.
There are situations where you require the learning of material in a fast way that doesn’t require critical thinking and creative development but rather take in as much as you possibly can for accessing later, then rote learning is ideal.
For example, youngsters have to memorise the alphabet before learning to read. Do you remember when you learnt the alphabet? This was a prerequisite before you learnt words! And it would have helped your learning and development if the alphabet could have been implanted into your memory quicker. Rote learning would be ideal here also.
Additionally rote learning has its rightful place in the memorisation of multiple times tables and other mathematical tables, equations and figures where recall of those numbers or characters are required later without any analysis or reflection on that data being learnt.
Supporters of rote learning adamantly state that any form of deeper understanding and absorption or even analysis of the alphabet or times tables or any type of similar work is completely unnecessary. Do we need to understand the times tables? Do we need to understand the actual alphabetical list? Therefore here are two places where rote learning is suitable.
Children in their early years can especially take advantage of rote learning or the memorisation of facts, numbers and characters to aid their learning in association with other educational and complex material.
Additionally special-needs classrooms where students have difficulties with learning such as with mental handicap, dyslexia and related conditions will find rote learning is the way to go.
Learning various languages especially those that are alien to us, foreign verbs and similar content can all be improved with rote learning for fast memorisation.
Also memorising and studying for exams especially when you’re cramming in data over a short period of time will also help you remember.
It has also been argued that the strict memorisation of multiplication time’s tables assists students in their development of maths computation skills and memory recall for deeper abstract mathematics later on in their learning and mental development.
Rote learning is ideal for young children who need to memorise and learn any form of mathematical table in the fastest way possible which includes subtraction, addition along with division calculations.
Through constant or continual repetition children can develop skills and master certain mathematical processes with greater ease which in turn will enhance their self-esteem and confidence levels which is essential for progressing in computation skills – remember it doesn’t take much to create frustration in children over mathematics!
Having a sound deep database within your own memory banks will never let you down.
Rote learning is not going to be ideal in all scenarios as we do also need to absorb and reflect on the information we are absorbing as opposed to just imprinting it in our memory for later recall.
Rote learning should not be dismissed as it can add tremendous value throughout our lives when we can instantaneously recall facts and figures in a flash. This can have both professional and social enhancement benefits for us all.
There are many scenarios where you need to have certain facts ingrained into your brain without having to ask others or retrieve the information from manuals or paperwork materials especially if it’s in front of the enquirer who is waiting for an answer.
Rote learning and any real-life, on-the-job or project-based learning such as NVQ training all have their place both independently and intertwined at different times and no one is superior over the other.
There is another school of thought who says that through repetition and bombardment of material imprinted into the memory allows you to return to learn it better later but at least you got it in there which always makes for the development of cleverness!
The whole idea of rote learning is to repeat over and over the data so it becomes automatically stored for later retrieval. You may be able to recall data instantly and even impress people with it but you may never have learnt it properly or in other words you may recall it but don’t understand it.
An ideal way of imprinting information into your mind is to use image mnemonics where you are using an image or a picture that includes the information you wish to recall later.
The image can be real or invented and they can be actually sketched into text deepening the associations between the image and data you wish to recall or to put simply, it helps you remember more easily.
An example of the mnemonic memory recall system is to associate an image with text and that text could be a name of a person. If the person’s name is Mr Mark Baker, you acknowledge his surname and you visualise him baking bread as a baker in a bakery.
You just instantly do it, you don’t spend time reflecting on it, it’s a two second thing at the precise moment you hear their name is Baker and if you feel or believe you need to recall his name later or if that person has some relevance to you then you instantaneously associate the surname to the nearest thing that comes to mind such as a baker baking bread in a bakery so at a later time when you need to think about that person for whatever reason and you cannot remember their name then you recall the association that you placed on that name and you will remember the baker baking bread in the bakery and there you have it. It is as simple as that and you do this with all things you wish to remember!
This is just one of many tools available for learning material for later recall.
You can also do this exact same thing with anything that comes to mind. It can be a fact, name or number and so on and as soon as you hear it, your mind will produce an association if you’re willing to and then you expand that association such as with the use of imagery or a sound which can be music and so on.
When you have a fact you want to recall then it is easy to recall if it is linked to an image.
A lot of the images including this process are amusing and somewhat daft but this is how we learn through association and all we’re doing is manually putting an image to a piece of data to enhance that small piece of data with a larger picture which is much easier to recall later.
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