This right here. I expect a full recitation at the end of the day.
…Why did I have to memorize glycolysis… in undergrad, masters, and again in my doctoral program? I still don’t know it by heart after teaching it multiple times a year, and it took up so much mental energy!
Facts are important, but as humans, we have created some pretty awesome tools for storing those facts. So awesome that we also store all the things that are incorrect as well, you know, just in case.
Here, memorize this book
Yes, we used to do this. Before books, uh, had copies, if you got your hands on a book and wanted to “read it later” you needed to memorize the entire thing. It wasn’t until the library of Alexandria that we started copying books regularly (they would get the books from merchants and the like, copy them, AND GIVE BACK THE COPY, keeping the original for themselves).
But I digress… I know your 3rd grade teacher told you “you won’t have a calculator with you wherever you go”, but they were wrong (particularly for those kids that had the calculator watches. All the rage in 90’s nerd fashion). You now have the whole worlds knowledge in your pocket. And if you don’t, you either lost your phone, or are in a world with a whole host of additional “mad max” like problems that your phone won’t help with.
So why memorize?
There are definitely cases where you need to memorize things. First that come to mind are anatomy and coding (or any language for that matter). Not to discount any other areas; there are always SOME things that need to be committed to long term memory.
The reasons to memorize something: You will never see the info again, it is convenient to not look something up every time, …and strange party tricks?
So think about what content you have your students memorize. Is it a good idea to have them spend their precious thoughts on knowing the intermediate enzymes and substrates in the Krebs cycle? Can you show them where to find the exact information, but then spend their thoughts on understanding how that information fits in with the rest of the field?
Think of it as “functional knowledge”. How are they going to use it in “the real world”, and how can you help them with that skill.
And if you need to have them memorize some monstrosity, try teaching them about using a memory palace first.
Fun fact! That voice actor can STILL do that song, and has even added the countries that didn’t make it into the original. Updated in 2017