Learning, thinking and doing
Learning, thinking and doing

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Learning, thinking and doing

2.2.1 Memorising

We sometimes have to remember words, names, symbols and other signs, simply because there is a convention that they will stand for some accepted meaning. This is the kind of learning we use, for example, when we memorise road signs, or the conversion of metric to imperial measures, or lists of words in a foreign language. However, very little of what you study in this course will require this kind of rote learning. You may need it if you try to remember certain definitions, for example. You will certainly need it at the beginning of learning how to use a software package if you have no prior experience of the package, because you will need to remember what to do in what order, and what certain symbols or actions mean. Unfortunately, we are not likely to understand complex ideas and experiences by applying the methods of rote learning, which typically involve repetition, silently or aloud, association with visual or auditory cues, and strategies such as mnemonics and rhyming.

Being able to remember things is important in all kinds of learning, however, even though the memorisation is not always the kind used in rote memorisation. We may be able to remember something, for example, because we can draw on our general understanding or knowledge to help us to recall that piece of information. I might be able to remember the name of a component or process, for example, because I understand something about the system of which it is a part. This is the kind of remembering, rather than rote learning, which is typical of the learning that is required in this course. Such remembering comes after the effort to understand something, or to construct some representation of principles or frameworks which make sense of detailed information. It is not that remembering is unimportant in academic study, but that it needs to follow from the effort to understand rather than from rote memorisation.


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