Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Classical education emphasizes using the grammar years to build the memory as one would build a muscle. Frankly, as a long-time secondary teacher, I wondered about the value of rote memory. Was it just something for the children to do until their minds developed to be able to discuss? As I have taught this year in the grammar years, I have seen vividly the great educational value of developing one’s memory.

Tim Challies posted an excellent article – “Empty Mind, Empty Hearts, Empty Lives” – explaining what we lose when we rely on computers as our memory devices.

Those who celebrate the ‘outsourcing’ of memory to the web have been misled by a metaphor. They overlook the fundamentally organic nature of biological memory. What gives real memory its richness and its character, not to mention its mystery and fragility, is its contingency. It exists in time, changing as the body changes.” Where a computer takes in information and immediately stores it as data, the human brain continues to process that information and turn it into a form of knowledge. Biological memory is a living memory; computer memory is not.

(emphasis mine)

In other words, building one’s memory is not just adding information into a data bank and learning to retrieve it on command. Memory always involves some degree of meditation. We chew on the information till we achieve some level of understanding. We link it with other information which creates an exponential degree of understanding for each connection.

Memorizing changes who you are.


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