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Discussion in 'Education news' started by JosieWhitehead, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I feel sure that our education system is constantly being played with - - perhaps just to keep someone in a job. When I did my teacher training (I'm now a retired FE teacher), we were told that all rote learning was to be banned from schools. Now there is no reason why March is the third month and January the first is there? There is no reason why A should come before B - - - and so on. So when these students were fed through the schools and arrived in my class, they hadn't learned the alphabet, and so they couldn't use a dictionary etc etc. So, before I could teach them my subject, I had to teach them the alphabet. Then it didn't take long for people to see how stupid this rule was and it was all changed. We were taught also to learn poetry by heart and had to stand at the front and recite our poems, throwing our voices to the far corners of the classroom without shouting, and putting expression into our voices and body language etc. But this was "rote" learning and so it was taken out of the curriculum for many years and now, ha ha - it has come back. I write poems that are performance poems, and this type of poetry links itself well to music, drama, and many other arts subjects. I've even had one poem incorporated into an operatic work, staged last year. I have taught all my life and you will know that being able to throw your voice well across a classroom, making your voice interesting to those who hear it, and adding facial expression, body language etc etc to this, helps to make you a wonderful teacher. No place for rote learning? What do you all think?
    delnon, indusant and phlogiston like this.
  2. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    It is easy to dismiss rote learning as "just knowing things you can google".
    Alternatively to dismiss knowledge because it's at the the bottom of Bloom's taxonomy; evaluation and creativity seem so much more exciting.
    However, knowledge underpins all the other skills - how can you evaluate an idea if you can't relate it to the world around you?
    I look at this as a scientist, you Josie, are looking at learning of literature and poetry. Science is meaningless without the body of knowledge.
    Other people's poetry usually needs reading out loud - I don't think creative writing gets far without an awareness of how others have written.
    delnon and indusant like this.
  3. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    I know that the whole controlled assessment thing in MFL demands that children memorise a whole piece of work they've written, to regurgitate it under exam conditions. Or a whole speech which they reel off in the speaking exam. This is rote learning gone too far.
  4. indusant

    indusant Senior commenter

    I believe it does have a place. It is eye opening to see how bad literacy skills are in Year 7. Even in 'Outstanding' schools in nice areas. Some children still are unable to say the alphabet.

    Perhaps it's a sign of our 'throwaway' consumerist culture. Kids do something a couple of times and think they know it. They don't. They then want to move on to the next thing without fully understanding the first thing. Schools pander to this as there is an underlying expectation that lessons need to be 'entertaining'.

    There seems to be no room for boredom in today's schools. Boredom is a sign that the teacher has failed be 'engaging' and thus entertaining. I think that being bored by something can be valuable step in the learning process. It could demonstrate that we are coming to a more intimate relationship with the material. We also start to see things that we missed at the beginning.

    I have hated and despised doing some things over and over again. But when you keep doing them anyway, I think you come to appreciate its uses later on. So, perhaps doing something over and over again to the point of boredom is a good thing. But education (and society) seems to view boredom as a negative thing to be avoided. This is somewhat misguided.

    In repeating something we also become more familiar with ourselves and our emotions. This helps to provide solid foundation on which to build. That being said, rote learning solely for the sake of just passing exams is not great either. So, it depends on the intention behind using it.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  5. delnon

    delnon Lead commenter

    Nobody is going to get very far in German without rote learning, be it the verb tables or the case tables. They can be overdone - heaven forfend that we go back to the 1960s, when textbooks tried to make German like Latin - but rote learning has its place.
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  6. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Why are they bringing back Shakespeare?
    15 or so years of stupid people telling us they would have passed GCSEs if they didn't have to learn anything, how is a teacher supposed to get them to learn chunks of brilliant speeches and their interpretations now?
    If a child wants to be on stage, they will have to learn whole plays by heart, it won't be the two line and 'cut' Hollywood style of acting and cgi expressions.
  7. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    Interesting, and maybe better discussed in MFL, but do German children learn tables of declensions and conjugations?
  8. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    I wonder if it's just a coincidence that people who say that are often unable to even know what it is they need to know and not very good at being able to google it or be very discerning at evaluating what they find when they do?

    I am one of those people who "knows lots of stuff", my whole life I have come across people who have tried to dismiss it as a pointless party trick to make themselves feel better, even to the point where they try to make it seem a barrier and that somehow not knowing stuff is more enabling.

    I am also one of those people that others ask all sorts of stuff as a port of first call and I was able to google stuff more effectively and quickly than the majority - they are linked.

    It's a valuable skill often denigrated by those who are lacking in it.
    delnon and phlogiston like this.
  9. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Define rote learning.

    The idea that you can quickly and accurately recall key facts, vocabulary, formulae. No problem.

    The pointless deathly terrible teaching by copying, re-reading stuff and all manner of very poor retention of knowledge strategies, no thank you.

    We train (on the PGCE) new teachers to teach their students using quite fun and effortless retention of knowledge strategies. They embed them in as they go and ensure that children can recall things without effort. Often, these trainee teachers start our sessions by saying they can't remember things well, like quotations, and then we train them properly. After that they then correctly say they have never been trained to remember things well. There's a difference. Being able to successfully commit things to memory is a useful skill.
    Landofla, peterdevon and JL48 like this.
  10. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I would never have become a law graduate without rote learning.

    You have to be able to learn screeds of case-law, to time-line them and link relevant cases. I defy anyone to do it without rote learning.
    JL48 likes this.
  11. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    It has its place, but should never be an end in and of itself.
  12. redlamp2

    redlamp2 Occasional commenter

    There's a difference between arming kids with the knowledge they need to learn for themselves and force feeding them facts that have little use to them.

    Achieving the former needs various approaches. Teachers are employed as experts to use them and should use those that work best for them and the kids they teach.

    I see no need to force feed poetry to kids. Or Shakespeare.
  13. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    and yet others will deny the need for times tables, conjugation of -ar verbs in Spanish, or a range of other things. Beyond the ability to read and write, and basic arithmetic which most people acquire before the end of KS2, how do we say what key knowledge is? Who and how do you define what kids "need to learn for themselves" or what they may or may not have use for in the future?

    You could say "let them choose", but then if we as adults don't know, then how are they supposed to? Giving a broad range of subjects across the disciplines up to the age of 16 (or 18) where students learn facts, which they they apply to show understanding, is fairly standard around the world. And for good reason.
    hope4thefuture and delnon like this.
  14. redlamp2

    redlamp2 Occasional commenter

    Never understand why people feel the need to argue between extremes on this issue. Leaving kids to figure stuff out for themselves ain't teaching - I'm not seeing anybody advocate that.Neither am I arguing against using memory or knowledge. I am saying that if you limit yourself to one tool, you're a poor teacher. If you want to teach kids to think for themselves a good way to go about it is to learn to do it for yourself.
    phlogiston and GLsghost like this.
  15. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    I have. It's depressing.

    A little extreme - but I do agree that multi-approaches is better.

    Fairly extreme language, and position.
  16. redlamp2

    redlamp2 Occasional commenter

    An extreme position is to dare to suggest it's not necessary to force feed Shakespeare and poetry?!
  17. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

  18. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    @JosieWhitehead if you make sure the last [/QUOTE] tag is placed before what you write, then what you write is separated from the quote.
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  19. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    Had you paid more attention in your English class, you would know that persuasive writing can rely heavily on choice of vocabulary. Extreme positions can be taken, while seeming to be reasonable.

    You might also have appreciated the poetry and Shakespeare that you were taught.
    hope4thefuture and delnon like this.
  20. delnon

    delnon Lead commenter

    Unfortunately I was only able to sit in on a handful of German lessons in one grammar school in one of the Bundesländer, each of which has its own education system. It would be illogical to draw a general conclusion from such limited data. However, the popularity of Bastian Sick's books on German Grammar and Usage, "der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod", currently four volumes and several spin-offs, suggests that grammatical awareness is high in the Bundesrepublik.

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