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Mere memorisation 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 and critical thinking. This has come from the realisation that memorisation should not be mistaken for learning. What you learn by rote today you forget tomorrow. For example, some forget the method to calculate square root, others can’t calculate LCM, GCM and HCF. This is because they did it by rote, only memorised the steps.

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

The emphasis should, therefore, be on experiential learning, where students learn by experiencing something rather than by memorising 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 the other. The route to the goal, and, thus, the method of learning, will depend upon the individual – on his inclination, his capacity and his 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 the rural parts. What will her choice depend upon? On several factors – how fast she wants to get 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 the adventurous type, 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 around things, and his or her own speed of doing things.

Education, thus, needs to customise itself, without overtly seeming to be doing so, to each individual student to help them learn rather than merely memorise.

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