Rote Learning Benefits- The Answers We Find.
Learning by rote is the first single foundation laid for any grounded learning in life, although thoughts abound about its ineffectiveness in the establishment of meaning as a basis for stored information.
In an attempt to get the real hang of whether or not rote learning should be given short shrift in schools and colleges, and whether or not it is useful to our sense of living as opposed to critical learning for full assimilation for the body's seat of intelligence, I have had to flash back to those days of early beginnings where a man was nothing more than a boy with childlike innocence and impressionability - we all were there at some point, during those periods when a woman was a girl with awkward body carriage and no consciousness for style. During this time the brain- which I like to think of as the ultimate use-it or lose-it arsenal of the body- was still very much a hollow space, a gap waiting to be filled with cold -hard facts about the world we live in. I reflected upon the affordability of the five sense organs as the first connection to cognition whose impact was the tonic that gradually fills and refreshes this vast emptiness of grey matter which stands tall just behind the temple. The things we saw, heard, touched, tasted and felt were obviously the things that we had to stored up for use. I figured this is how adaptation works- the gain of mastery developed from repetitive actions. For the most part, we did not do this by intuition but by learning which start out as rote and given substance as the days turn to weeks and weeks become years- the full stretch of life expectancy.
Then I had to jog my memory in the direction of the Sunday School and Madrassa which was a later development for kids just after the days of toddling are over. As a little child, going to receive moral instructions to help shape my sense of super-ego was one of the dues I had to pay my parents. I remember much of our learning revolve around reading aloud by chanting and resorting to humming when at times it did not seem we heard the teacher audibly well, whether it was to chime a song or learn a scripture. We were nothing better than robots or zombies who just wanted to have fun without an understanding of the meaning of the word fun. Soon, what we learned took a toe-hold, to varying degrees, on us and when asked to recall the previous lessons by the teacher, some of us would do pretty well while some struggled to make an impression of anything. I now have established recalling or remembering was a power that some of us had and others failed to arm themselves with while memory was the weapon that produces it. I have had to put it down that some processing was done even at that age. Some of us had had to do some reflecting on our own even in our simple naivety and the information passed unto the subconscious layer of storage that we would always call back which was then at best a sketchy sketch.
By progression, I had to look back to elementary school when it was necessary to learn basic maths and language skills. It was a responsibility to learn the multiplication tables and a stack of unfamiliar words by heart and reel them off before everyone in class. The teacher would always din it into our ears by reading or calling out these expressions and by rote we would all answer. We might not have understood the technicality of numbers and phonetic concepts then but we understood something- that if we defaulted to commit them to heart, we might run the risk of punishment. So how did we manage to get round this with a rudimentary brain? We re-enacted this by taking out time to do some reading aloud by self in our privacy as though we were answering to the teacher's sometimes vociferous call out, all out of fear for the teacher, for failure on this will certainly not go down with impunity. So, what worked this so-called magic was the power of repetition. It was our lethal weapon we had to use out of fear. It registered these incoherent numbers and words in our minds without a cognition of their workings.
Further more, I have had to think even as an adult. In many instances I have had to memorize my lines in plays we stage regularly for my church. This is so imperative to learn by rote so that the speaker and listener can know when to play their roles without interference. This is certainly not a case against a lack of critical thinking but a pre-requisite to minimizing niggling errors that can flaw the thespian art. In the same vein, thinking of the facts that both the young and adults have had to memorize things such as phone numbers, the exact wordings of statutes or academic formulae makes me see the potentiality of rote. It may not be possibly tenable to critically think out an established pattern for calling out these gibberish when the need arises but the use of rote can come to the fore to save the situation of emergency and help to beat the enemy called time. Time can be the greatest enemy we have to fight at times.
Taking me through this haul, I have certainly come to see the impact traditional way of learning, rote, can produce- building weapons such as memory and understanding in the arsenal called the brain. This method of learning would certainly do no adult any serendipitous good when it comes to learning for critical evaluation, it is the best start recipe for learning for children with growing cerebrum that further enhances critical learning in later life. As my dear friend would say: 'repetition works well in a kiddo, it creates an impression through their growing years and by association they become adults.'
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