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” another prominent school district leader said in an interview. They’ve been trained to believe it’s best to go straight for “higher-order skills” like analyzing and synthesizing—rather than wasting time on supposedly “lower-order” ones like knowing and understanding information.Instruction in reading comprehension “skills,” such as “making inferences,” has pushed information-rich subjects like social studies and science out of the curriculum in many schools, on the theory that readers can apply those skills to any text.They could see the benefit of being able to communicate more.” But that does raise a caveat.
But here’s what may surprise those who dismiss memorization: those students also had higher scores on questions calling for analysis.
In fact, their advantage on those questions was even higher than on the factual recall ones: points. The students who used Cerego more were more likely to say they could follow the lectures, and their scores on class quizzes were consistently higher.
It seems, says Harlow, that “the knowledge you’ve retained helps you interpret the next slide.”Another way of putting this has to do with “working memory,” which is somewhat like short-term memory.
The important point about working memory is that it can only hold a limited number of items for a limited period of time.
But scientists who study the process of learning have found something quite different: the more factual knowledge people have about a topic, the better they can think about it critically and analytically.
A groundbreaking study published in 1946 showed that the reason expert chess players choose better moves than weaker players is not that they’re better at analytical thinking in general.
Long-term memory, on the other hand, is virtually unlimited.
The more items you can simply withdraw from long-term memory—because you’ve memorized them—the fewer items take up precious space in working memory, leaving more space there for absorbing and analyzing new information.
Former New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña summarized the prevailing view when she declared that facts are learned “maybe to take tests, but we learn thinking to get on in life.”This scorn for factual knowledge has been widespread for decades, but it’s grown even more entrenched in the internet era.
“I ask teachers all the time, if you can Google it, why teach it? That’s critical thinking and problem solving.”Many teachers don’t even to get students to remember information they can Google.