Memorisation is,of course,a method that is a necessary evil.But that occasion should be sporadic not the norm.When I was a student myself,it was an indubitable given that the teacher was a mere conduit and conveyor of knowledge, with the exception of a few bright beacons of hope and refreshing change for us students.The teacher entered the classroom all high and mighty,delivered their lesson and assigned the homework,which entailed excruciating memorisation of facts and figures that we would most likely forget.It goes without saying that the student with the best memory and retention skills was rewarded handsomely with high grades.The others-well,they had to tag along somehow.
My life's story is abundant in successes and failures.One time I remember all too vividly, was when I was sitting for my oral exams in German. Luckily,I had always been extremely adept at memorisisng data,so I went through the written part of the examination with remarkable ease.When the time came for me to perform orally,though......suffice it to say that it was a horrendous nightmare.I was sweating profusely and I could hardly breathe.I did manage to go through the questions posed fairly decently and by some miracle,I passed.The oral examination though,the way I see it today,from a teacher's angle,was a complete and utter flop.Not enough emphasis was placed on conducting oral lessons in the classroom,rather memorisation of literary texts,drawn out analyses of characters and grammar were favoured disproportionately in comparison to the development of oral skills.
On the other hand,what I consider a personal success story,was my unexpected high placement in the state exams for teacher placement-the very last time they were conducted.Admittedly,I didn't study extensively.But the couple of weeks I did,were spent on research and comparisons of teaching methodologies, listening to interviews,watching documentaries and/or movies on the subject.I discussed with colleagues over controversial teaching subjects,such as class management,discipline,grading and exams.I firmly believe that the above process was infinitely more helpful to me than if I had spent my entire time studying and memorisisng data,without so much as questioning or judging them.I attribute my success to the freedom I had to choose my own material,do my own research and form an opinion that was entirely my own.I did not get selected,unfortunately.But I feel myself fortunate to have been able to use all this newly-acquired knowledge on my numerous students in the last nine years-and with great success I might add.
So,for me to learn effectively,I need to be able to have the liberty to choose the material from which to derive the required knowledge.I will need to be given some resources,of course,based on which I can better judge on how to proceed.I need visual material,like videos,interviews or podcasts from a multitude of sources.I need to be free to engage in a fruitful discussion with like-minded people and colleagues,who can provide me with a different view or angle on the topic.I need the time to process the information in my own way,at my own pace,maybe even journal or blog about it.Then and only then will I own what I have learnt.
In my view,it was this freedom that allowed me to better integrate and consolidate the necessary data to perform successfully.This of course, applies to everyone and to a multitude of occasions-whether it is an everyday lesson or something more,something bigger,such as exams or a job opening.This is the exact freedom I endeavour to extend to my own students everytime I deliver a new lesson-both within and out of the classroom.Freedom to explore.Freedom to form one's own opinion and be able to voice sound judgment.Freedom to learn at one's own pace,without the stress of time and competition.Eventually,the freedom and power to gain essential knowledge,the kind that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
With love and light,