ACUMEN  
        The Art and Science of Learning Craft  


  Rote Learning

Rote learning is a learning technique which focuses on memorization. The major practice involved in rote learning is learning by repetition. The idea is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the more one repeats it.

The well-known role of repetition in the common process of memorization of course plays a role in the more complex techniques of the art of memory. The earliest of the references to the art of memory, the Dialexis, mentioned above, makes this clear, "repeat again what you hear; for by often hearing and saying the same things, what you have learned comes complete into your memory." Similar advice is a commonplace in later works on the art of memory.

Various nations use colorful terms for rote learning; in Chinese it is known as tian yazi (填鸭子, "stuff the duck"), while in German it as Der Nürnberger Trichter ("the Nuremberg Funnel"), in both cases suggesting that knowledge is simply pushed in to the pupil. In Greece rote learning is known as Papagalia (παπαγαλία, parrot-like learning). In French it is called "par cœur" (by heart).

By definition, rote learning eschews comprehension, so by itself it is an ineffective tool in mastering any complex subject at an advanced level. For instance, one illustration of Rote learning can be observed in preparing quickly for exams, a technique which may be colloquially referred to as "cramming".

Meenakshi Narang  wrote in Education master 

"India is home to brilliant scientists, doctors, engineers, philosophers, and writers. But, India is also home to scores of rote learners. These students memorize by heart the concepts they are taught, rather than understanding them. While it is easy to blame the students, the fault actually lies within our education system. The Indian education system does not leave room for understanding, analysis, and creativity.

In our country, pupils have no option but to become rote learners because of the extreme importance attached, both by their parents and teachers, to their performance in a three-hour written examination. These examinations, however, are not a real test of a child’s comprehension ability. In reality, if the children are able to regurgitate all that they have memorized from their text books, they score top marks."

There is a news item Hindustan times

"Perhaps it’s just Union Human Resources minister Kapil Sibal, or perhaps it’s the Aamir Khan effect. From later this year, lives of school students across India will change. Under the Model Rules of the Right to Education (RTE) Act circulated to school education secretaries on Friday, rote learning, will be replaced by a system of “Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation” that will take into account the talents of children in fields such as music, dance, art, writing and oratory."    

By definition, rote learning eschews comprehension, so by itself it is an ineffective tool in mastering any complex subject at an advanced level. For instance, one illustration of Rote learning can be observed in preparing quickly for exams, a technique which may be colloquially referred to as "cramming".

Rote learning is sometimes disparaged with the derogative terms parrot fashion, regurgitation, cramming, or mugging because one who engages in rote learning may give the wrong impression of having understood what they have written or said. It is strongly discouraged by many new curriculum standards. For example, science and mathematics standards in the United States specifically emphasize the importance of deep understanding over the mere recall of facts, which is seen to be less important, although advocates of traditional education have criticized the new American standards as slighting learning basic facts and elementary arithmetic, and replacing content with process-based skills.

Nothing is faster than rote learning if a formula must be learned quickly for an imminent test and rote methods can be helpful for committing an understood fact to memory. However, students who learn with understanding are able to transfer their knowledge to tasks requiring problem-solving with greater success than those who learn only by rote.



 
Herbert Alexander Simon (June 15, 1916 – February 9, 2001) was a  Nobel laureate, an American political scientist, economist, sociologist, and psychologist, and professor—most notably at Carnegie Mellon University—whose research ranged across the fields of cognitive psychology, cognitive science, computer science, public administration, economics, management, philosophy of science, sociology, and political science.

In a 2000 paper by Simon and two co-authors which counters Arguments by French mathematics educator Guy Brousseau and others suggesting that excessive practice hampers children's understanding: [The] criticism of practice (called 'drill and kill,' as if this phrase constituted empirical evaluation) is countered by Simon and two co-authors, in a paper published as

"Nothing flies more in the face of the last 20 years of research than the assertion that practice is bad. All evidence, from the laboratory and from extensive case studies of professionals, indicates that real competence only comes with extensive practice.... In denying the critical role of practice one is denying children the very thing they need to achieve real competence. The instructional task is not to 'kill' motivation by demanding drill, but to find tasks that provide practice while at the same time sustaining interest".


 






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