Is Memorisation Fruitful for Education?

Jakaria Hossain

29 October, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Memorisation has become solely and mainly the best way to pass examinations for many students in our country nowadays. They consider achieving academic transcripts and certificates as their main motto, forgetting the true essence of education. This is our scenario in the present moment. That education awakens the latent talent of mind and removes the stark darkness from the core of mind is not comprehensible to many students. Curious and desperate, they crave to have the outward taste by learning by heart while reading any topic, which is not the main motive of education. Education is and should be relevant, logical, delightful, pragmatic, pleasant, etc.

Many students do not find any delight while reading; they think it as a disgusting task, ruminating that they have been compelled to read and write, and also mulling over it as unfavourable for their desire. To remove the reluctance and apathy from their study, our education system should be more effective in order to take necessary measures. However, many students always do not command over the ABC of their topic, which dispels their indomitable appeal to learn. As a result, they turn to be segregated from the path of creativity and innovation that signifies a backbone-free nation, and it can never be our expectation.

Practicality is not understandable to them and it is not maintained by them. In this regard, the visit of Leo Tolstoy, arguably the most highly knowledgeable literary figure in the history of Russian literature, to some European countries gives us the practical aspects of education. He visited England first to observe the elementary education system that did not satisfy him at all. Later on, he paid a visit to France. This visit showed him how the elementary school students were rapt in memorisation, bringing no mental growth and effective outcome to flourish their talent. In one of the French schools, he asked, "By whom Henry the fourth was killed?" The answer was raised by the students that Julius Caesar assassinated Henry the fourth of France. Tolstoy expressed that theirs were mechanical memory. There he did not find anything effectual; he was astonished as the abortiveness of the elementary education system in France. After that, he went to Germany and found his expected outcome. Arriving in Russia after his long tours from several European countries, he set up a primary school at his estate, spending the last part of his life thereby tutoring. Tolstoyan trilogy Childhood, Boyhood and Youth, autobiographical novels, give us insights into the contemporary primary education system.

Another important aspect is reasoning. The students do not question whether a fact was right or wrong; they try to ignore it because they do not want to concentrate on their studies any longer, finding the fixed topic unpleasant. It is said that they have no will to ask any question scientifically. As to this point, it is mentionable that Francis Bacon in his famous Advancement on Learning shows the scientific approach to knowledge based on reason. This sort of aphorism is not followed by many students.

In our education system, we see that it lacks relevant measures. The teaching system is not highly beneficial for students. Sometimes it is seen that many teachers take classes without any premeditated preparation. Taking classes only on sudden wish does not make the students eager for their studies. Immature teaching style is extremely deleterious for the burgeoning of meritocracy, which is not right for building an intellectual nation. Rabindranath in one of his famous short stories, "A Parrot's Tale"(TotaKahini), shows that unsuitable and wrong mechanism is harmful to the protrusion of human minds. The death of the bird in the story allegorises the faultiness of our education system. Similarly, another dramatic work by Rabindranath, Achalayatan, depicts the stark glitch of our education system; the speech of Dada Thakur of the play is highly aphoristic.

Memorisation contaminates the latent talent of knowledge. It does not rouse a student's ardour for their study. Students become so unmindful that they do not ask internally and spontaneously whether a piece of information is right or wrong. Memorisation does not force them to pose a rational question. Here it needs to tell the Socratic teaching. Socrates always would tell his disciples that whenever they would come to him, they would greet him with a good question, and, at the time of departure, they would again pose him a question.

Memorisation is not, I think from my viewpoint, effective for the mental growth of children, in particular, belonging to class one and class two. It makes a ghastly effect on their minds. As to this gruesomeness, Albert Einstein in his famous essay "The Nightmare" shows that examinations always bring about harmfulness to their thinking and, at the same time, their health. So, I think exams should be cancelled from classes one and two.

In our country, many university students are fond of learning the summary of specific topics, which is not our aspiration as universities are the highest seats of learning. Universities are the place of making research-oriented and creative people that standardises the image of a country. Many students exclusively of the English Department, I have seen directly, are accustomed to reading the epitomised part of a text. It has been, frankly saying, delved into their ingrained habit. Shoomp, eNotes, Sparknotes, Gradesaver, etc., are their constant companions. These sorts of books are prepared for school level students. How the students from the tertiary level of education demote themselves make me despondent. Newman writes in his famous essay "The Idea of a University" that education is a force:

"It is education which helps us refine our sensibility."

Today, the ideas and thoughts of Newman are not being incarnated by many students. How education has been ineffective to them!

To sum up, it is strongly uttered that memorising can never be effective to ensure quality education. Our government should take necessary measures to update our education system. Education is not a commodity that should be maintained. We should fend off the trend of memorising.


The author is a final year student of English Department at Jagannath University.