Why rote learning is not good

Rote learning is just memorising everything that you can without having an understanding of what you are memorising. You take some concept and instead of getting to know the intricate details of how that works, you get down to memorise it to later regurgitate in exams and to get some marks. But this is fickle and uncertain.

Richard Feynman, when he was in Brazil, saw this rote learning system heavily implemented there. He criticised it always and gave an emphasis on learning with understanding.

How rote learning works:

As you continue to learn more and more, you begin to forget what you crammed last week or so. So you need to memorise again and again. This is simply not efficient if you don’t understand the topic.

A student memorising and stressed

Rote learning

Benefits of learning by understanding:

When you understand, you have thought about the topic. You have seen it from different angles. You have solved problems on it which push you to think on something in many different ways. This way it becomes internalised better and you don’t have to mindlessly cram it anymore.
This is highly useful to learn about any topic. Never cram or memorise when you can understand something.

Get to know the topic. Understand the basic concepts. Then take the concepts and think on them and see what different possibilities you can think about the topic. What can happen if this is introduced or that is removed etc. Then push yourself even more by solving problems. Do this again to other topics that you want to learn about.

Lifehack image about a girl thinking

Think about different ways

You will remember this way longer than if you just memorise. You will think of applications and then you will also apply some of the things you may have learnt here and there and that will boost your learning even more.

This will help you by a huge margin in exams. Memorising is good too but only when you have understood some topic really well and all you have to memorise are some results to help you speed up your calculations in exams. That’s it. Any more will only harm you in the long run and kill your learning curiosity.

Understand and learn.


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