Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Prof. Dutch

Via Newmark's Door comes Professor Steven Dutch's Top Ten No-Sympathy Lines that he's heard from college students (mostly of the type that ought not be in college in the first place). I loved this one:
There Was Too Much Memorization

Sad to say, students have been victims of a cruel hoax. You've been told ever since grade school that memorization isn't important. Well, it is important, and our system wastes the years when it is easiest to learn new skills.

Memorization is not the antithesis of creativity; it is absolutely indispensable to creativity. Creative insights come at odd and unpredictable moments, not when you have all the references spread out on the table in front of you. You can't possibly hope to have creative insights unless you have memorized all the relevant information. And you can't hope to have really creative insights unless you have memorized a vast amount of information, because you have no way of knowing what might turn out to be useful.

Rote memorization is a choice. If you remember facts and concepts as part of an integrated whole that expands your intellectual horizons, it won't be rote. If you merely remember things to get through the next exam, it will be rote, and a whole lot less interesting, too. But that is solely your choice.

It is absolutely astonishing how many people cannot picture memorization in any other terms than "rote memorization," - even after reading the paragraph just above.
He also has a lot of provocative and interesting essays here, including the most sensible thing I've ever read on plagiarism.


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