The other day I saw this on Humans of New York:
“What’s the most frustrating part about being teacher?”
“I think it’s getting increasingly difficult to convince my students that what I’m teaching is relevant to their lives. They see a world where the path to success is much more muddled, and social skills are beginning to seem more important than academics. It’s hard to instill the importance of memorization when information is so freely and instantly available.”
I’ve been thinking about that last sentence for a few days not. Is memorisation important? Really?
Harry recently mentioned that he’s really good at remembering things he’s interested in – he can talk for hours about the strengths and weaknesses of various Pokémon, for example – but not so much with things he’s not. I actually only noticed that myself about ten years ago. At the time, I was working in accountancy and there were certain aspects of my job that I just couldn’t seem to retain even when I worked with them every single day. And yet I can easily quote from many, many episodes of Friends…
I asked my husband – who has a fantastic memory – and he said memorisation is useful for when, say, you don’t have immediate access to the internet. But the things I, er, remember having to memorise weren’t the kind of things you’d need in an emergency, were they? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a life or death ‘who was on the throne between 1820 and 1830′ situation.’ (It was George IV. I just looked it up.) Husband said it’s more important to know how to access the information you need and I agree with that. But I also wonder if there’s something vital about memorisation that I’m missing…