Saturday, March 12, 2011

On Memorization

The most unusual difference between graduate and undergraduate has been the increased emphasis on memorization.  In undergrad, the professors seemed to realize that memorizing equations was much less important than being able to use them to solve problems and as such spent more time teaching how to solve the problems instead of theorizing on the equations.  Here it's the opposite with the primary focus on committing to memory equations that will forever be referenced from textbooks or internet searches, and almost no time, if any on solving actual problems.  I didn't realize that simply knowing theory was enough to result in above adequate problem solving skills, but apparently that's the running assumption here.

This transition has been a real struggle for me because my memory just isn't that great and it doesn't convert short term memory into long term memory, at least not when it comes to academics.  My way around this in my general life has been to write everything down because otherwise it has a very high chance of being forgotten.  There are probably mental exercises and tricks I could do to improve this, but I'm not that interested in doing so.  Filling up my head with tons of mental clutter doesn't really suit me.  Who really needs to try and keep a juggling match going inside their brain while still adding more and more information every day?  It is just exhausting to try to do it.

For academics, as a visual remember-er I focus on summarizing everything into a few pages of notes, which I then vigorously try to shove into the nooks and crannies of my brain.  At some point I think the memorization does turn into actual learning but I'm not convince that in my case much of it is sticking around for an appreciable amount of time.

Does anyone else have this problem or know what to do about it?

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