Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Memorization and 21st century skills

I was sitting at our faculty in service today and our guest speaker is a prominent psychologist in our area. I was listening to him talk about strategies that we can use to help students with learning disorders be successful in our classrooms and ultimately in the "real world." Many of the strategies that he discussed were great recommendations that any good teacher should and would incorporate into their classroom.

One section of his talk did bother me. He said that memorization is a very important skill that should be taught and incorporated in all parts of the curriculum. Where does this fit into teaching students 21st century skills? He was correct in saying there is too much information for anyone to memorize, but his answer to the problem is wrong. As we are preparing our students to be successful in the 21st century, we need to get past this idea that everything needs to be memorized. As an anatomy teacher I struggle with this issue myself. We need to teach students how to access and filter the enormous amounts of information that is constantly being streamed at them. The faculty at our school was asking "How do I help my students memorize this?" The question we should be asking is "How do I teach my student to access and use the information appropriately?" We need to teach students how access the information and to use their learning network. We need to move beyond rote memorization. With technology tasks that have been traditionally left to memorization and left brain thinking can be done by a computer. We need to encourage and foster the right brain skills in order to prepare our students for the 21st century.

Teachers in the 21st Century must change and adapt to keep up with their students. The time has come for teachers to move away from rote memorization, repetitive practice, silent study without conversation, and brief exposure to topics, and instead, move closer to authentic learning.
-What Really Engages All Students?"
We need to teach students how to learn how to access the information to make informed decisions and solve real world problems.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/tashamort/2316193178/ username: Natrasha