An analysis of the memorization

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An analysis of the memorization

Even highly educated people in their thirties and forties are often unable to recite half a dozen lines of classic poetry or prose. They declaimed passages from Shakespeare and Wordsworth, the Psalms and the Declaration of Independence.

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That too-common view is sadly wrong. Kids need both the poetry and the memorization. As educators have known for centuries, these exercises deliver unique cognitive benefits, benefits that are of special importance for kids who come from homes where books are scarce and the level of literacy low.

The memorization and recitation of the classic utterances of poets and statesmen form part of a tradition of learning that stretches back to classical antiquity, when the Greeks discovered that words and sounds—and the rhythmic patterns by which they were bound together in poetry—awakened the mind and shaped character.

They made poetry the foundation of their pedagogy.

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Athenian schoolboys learned by heart the poetry of Homer, through which they gained mastery of their language and their culture. They memorized as well, in versified form, the civic pronouncements of Solon, the founder of the Athenian political tradition.

In every epoch of Western history we find educators insisting that their pupils serve an apprenticeship in the work of masters of poetry and rhetoric.

He had developed, through this education, a phenomenal memory, a tenacious attention to detail, an art of opening the heart, that still moves us as we read his Confessions. Virgil depicts Aeneas using his oratorical skill to steady, in adversity, the nerves of his men and build up what would become the Roman Empire: Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.

More than a millennium later, in a grammar school in Stratford-upon-Avon, the mind of the young Shakespeare was formed by similar educational methods. These classic techniques of enveloping kids as young as seven or eight in the works of masters of poetry and rhetoric were transplanted to America, where they were incorporated into the readers and primers used throughout the country in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Well into the s, rhyme-time occupied an important place in New York City public schools.


Teachers should read a group of five poems somewhat similar in style and related in subject matter, so that the pupils may choose their favorite for memorization. Whenever possible, the lullabies and poems of the lower and middle years should be sung or presented by phonograph records.

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Much of our stirring patriotic verse has been set to music. Records of such songs are available. Observers were impressed by how quickly the kids mastered the material.

A visitor to a first-grade classroom in New York in remarked on how quickly pupils absorbed the verses their teacher had sung to them.

An analysis of the memorization

But the culture of recitation and memorization that prospered for centuries—and that, in New York, survived successive waves of immigration that stretched schools to their limits—declined rapidly after Even the rationale for such practices was forgotten.

But the rationale is clear and compelling. Long before kids start school, parents begin to teach them language with the primitive poetry of the nursery rhyme. The music of the verse was as entrancing to her as to any grown-up.

Without knowing it, a child who has learned a scrap of verse has been drawn into the civilizing interplay of music and language, rhythm and sound, melody and words—just as educational theory as far back as ancient Greece posits, according to Werner Jaeger in his classic account of Greek education, Paideia.

An analysis of the memorization

From The Cat in the Hat on up, verse teaches children something about the patterns and relationships that bind together the words of which it is composed. Poetry sets up an abstract system of order and harmony; the rhythm and the rhyme scheme are logical structures that a child can comprehend even before he understands the words themselves, just as he can grasp the rhythmic and harmonic relations of a piece of music.

What the child discovers, in other words, is not only aesthetically pleasing, but important to cognitive development. Classic verse teaches children an enormous amount about order, measure, proportion, correspondence, balance, symmetry, agreement, temporal relation tenseand contingent possibility mood.

Mastering these concepts involves the most fundamental kind of learning, for these are the basic categories of thought and the framework in which we organize sensory experience. Kids need to become familiar with them not only through exercises in recitation and memorization, but also, as they proceed to the later grades, by construing, analyzing, and diagramming particular verses.

It not only teaches them to articulate English words; it heightens their feel for the intricacies and complexities of the English language—an indispensable attainment if they are to go on to speak, write, and read English with ease.

In too many cases, they will give up entirely, unable to enter the community of literate citizens—and as a result will live in a world of constricted opportunity.

It is not only the form of poetry—its rhyme and meter—that endows it with unique educative properties. Just as crucial is its content. The content of the poetry fosters what education reformer E.Schemata in long-term memory that are so essential to effective analysis are also the principal source of inertia in recognizing and adapting to a changing environment.

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In the opposite direction and without shame, Damon . Memorization is the process of committing something to memory. Mental process undertaken in order to store in memory for later recall items such as experiences, names, appointments, addresses, telephone numbers, lists, stories, poems, pictures, maps, diagrams, facts, music or other visual, auditory, or tactical information.

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