Saturday, November 09, 2019

Seth Godin on Learning: Response

Usually, Seth is pithy and insightful.  Today, he sounded naive to me. Although it post was brief. Seth said

The difference between memorization and learning

In order to learn something, you must understand it. You might become so insightful and facile with the ideas that it appears you’ve memorized them, but that’s just a side effect.
Rote memorization can be done in some fields, and you can even recite what you’ve memorized to someone else who can memorize it.
For example: You can’t learn alphabetical order, you can only memorize it.
On the other hand, memorizing anything that you’ll need to build upon, improvise on or improve is foolish. You’ll need to do the work of understanding it instead.

This is, to my mind, a very naive discussion of learning. There are some very different types of learning.  There's the building of skills such riding a bike, reading a book, or telling a story.

But, to be a successful reader, a kid must master many skills and lessons.  One skill is recognizing the different sounds, learning to connect them with the letters, and to learn to decode successfully.  However, many students fail to comprehend what they learn, on major reason is the lack of mastery of the vocabulary required to understand the book.  And while it would be great if exposure to vocabulary was enough for most people to learn the vocabulary, the fact is that most people need to encounter a word fourteen times in many different contexts over a period of weeks for the word to enter long term memory.

Stay tuned, more later.

There are two very important types of fluency or memorization that should happen in elementary school.

1. Learn your time tables - I recommend Time4MathFacts as Gamified and Effective.  See this math facts educational article

2. Retain your vocabulary. While learning vocabulary has a number of clever techniques, there's a different question of how to retain. Research says that for most of us, 12-15 touches with a word, different contexts, different ways over 3-5 weeks provides a very high probability of long term retention.  Read about vocabulary retention.