Memorization is Not Learning

I often hear my students talking about what they need to memorize in order to do well on assessments, and this drives me crazy. Memorization is not learning. It is an aspect of learning that can serve as a strategy in the learning process, but it is not equivalent to learning.

For an example, lets look at music. Chords and notes are not music. They are a vital aspect of learning and playing music, but simply learning chords and notes does not mean you play music. Playing music is when you tinker with the chords and notes, learn how they can be combined in a way that is pleasing to the ear, and delivered in a way that both expresses and conjures up emotion. Music involves process. Musicians need to memorize chords, notes, and scales, but it is how they process and practice these memorized elements that makes music. Also, musicians can struggle through challenges and seemingly mundane basics because they know that this will empower them to create something unique, powerful, and significant. When students do this in other areas of learning, they experience the same results.

As teachers and parents, we must help young learners to resist the urge to memorize, focus on test scores, and put learning into an anemic box that they will cast away and forget soon after the test. Instead we can inspire them and encourage them to create, think critically, and learn deeply. If anything, I hope my students can memorize this.


via Daily Prompt: Memorize


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4 thoughts on “Memorization is Not Learning

  1. I agree with you. Good differentiation between the two. I like how you said memorizing is a strategy in learning, not learning itself. Although I do think lately with the ease of looking something up on the web, people are not even bothering with memorizing any more either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point. Maybe the ability to look up things on the internet allows us to use memorization for those things we need to know and use on a daily basis (specific career field/job task) while we outsource the rest to Google. Thanks for the comment!


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