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Mere memorization is not learning

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The system of education in India is gradually changing. From being primarily focused on exams and marks, it is now getting focused also on creativity critical thinking, and life skills. This shift has come from the realization that memorization should not be mistaken for learning. What you learn by rote today, you tend to forget it tomorrow. For example, some forget the method to calculate square root, others can’t calculate LCM, GCM, and HCF. This is because they learnt all these by rote, memorizing the steps only.

We have come across several instances where candidates have stalled while carrying out a derivation in the Math paper or balancing an equation in Chemistry because they have mugged up the formula/ concept rather than trying to understand how a step logically leads to the next.

The emphasis should; therefore, be on experiential learning, where students learn by experiencing something rather than by memorizing it. It is important to ‘know,’ but there can be several different ways of ‘knowing!’ There can be several routes to the goal, and one may not necessarily be better than other routes. The route to the goal and thus, the method of learning will depend upon the individual – on his/her inclination, capacity, and grasping power.

To draw an analogy, if Nikita wants to travel from place “A” to place “B,” what mode of transport should she use? She can travel by road (a bus or a car), train, or air. Even a bullock-cart comes to mind if she has to travel in rural parts. What will her choice depend upon? On several factors – how fast she wants to reach there, how much she can afford to spend, and how much comfort she wants to travel in. She can spend a lot of money and travel by plane, or spend a little and travel by train. If she is adventurous, she will drive to “B” herself, or endure the heat and dust and take a bus. To stretch the analogy further, even on the train, she can choose to travel in an air-conditioned coach or a sleeper class coach. So there is no “one” right answer to the question, “What mode of transport should Nikita use?”

In a similar manner, there cannot be one right method or one right pace for students to learn. Each will have his or her own way of learning things, and his or her own speed of doing things. Education, thus, needs to customize itself, without overtly seeming to be doing so, to each individual student’s needs in order to help them learn rather than merely memorize.
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