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Rote Learning Vs Smart Learning

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By Yashodhra Arora
5 Mar'22  7 min read
Rote Learning Vs Smart Learning
Synopsis

In the 21st century, educated people are not defined by the amount of information they know, but by how quickly they can find the information they need, as well as by their ability to interpret, and link information creatively.

This means that we’re now moving away from simple memorization and towards smart learning, which includes associative learning, conceptual learning, and meaningful learning. So, are 'Edtech' and 'Smart Learning' truly the future of education? Read this article to find out the rote learning definition, rote learning examples, and the difference between ‘Rote Learning’ and ‘Smart Learning’, to better grasp how to make use of the different learning styles effectively.

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Rote Learning Vs Smart Learning
Synopsis

In the 21st century, educated people are not defined by the amount of information they know, but by how quickly they can find the information they need, as well as by their ability to interpret, and link information creatively.

This means that we’re now moving away from simple memorization and towards smart learning, which includes associative learning, conceptual learning, and meaningful learning. So, are 'Edtech' and 'Smart Learning' truly the future of education? Read this article to find out the rote learning definition, rote learning examples, and the difference between ‘Rote Learning’ and ‘Smart Learning’, to better grasp how to make use of the different learning styles effectively.

Read more

In the past 50 years, education has changed dramatically, from studying under trees, to classrooms with computers. Schools and institutions have undertaken several initiatives in recent years, to transition from traditional rote learning, to smart learning education methods. It cannot be denied that the use of these technologies has enhanced the quality of education, by making it more interactive and engaging. Is rote learning still relevant in the classroom today, or is it outdated? It is becoming increasingly common to abandon rote learning in favour of associative learning, metacognition, meaningful learning, conceptual learning, and critical thinking, rather than using it as a necessary foundation for higher-level thinking.

Let’s compare rote learning with smart learning education.

Rote Learning Definition

Rote learning is the process of memorisation wherein you repeat material over and over again, until it becomes ingrained in your memory. Rote learning is the fundamental method of learning, and almost all of us have used this style at different points, especially during childhood. Rote learning examples include things that one memorises verbatim, such as numbers, letters, dates, and names. The idea behind rote learning is that the more one repeats the material, the easier it will be for one to recall it.

Rote learning examples:

  • After a couple of times of singing along with a song playing on your iPod or radio, you often start picking up interesting lines, and soon you realise that you have learned the whole song.

  • In higher classes, students often learn the periodic table in chemistry, using rote learning.

Benefits of Rote Learning:

  • Rote learning is generally used when memorisation is to be done quickly, such as memorising lines in a play, or multiplication tables in mathematics.
  • Rote learning helps to build foundational knowledge.
  • When learning maths and science, rote methods help memorise formulae and tables.

Drawbacks of Rote Learning:

  • When you learn by rote, you may lose focus easily and find it repetitive.
  • Rote learning doesn’t allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the subject.
  • Rote learning disregards comprehension, so it cannot be used alone to master any complex subject at an advanced level.
  • The rote learning method does not help you link the new knowledge to the previous knowledge.

What Is Smart Learning?

Smart learning is a broad term for education in this digital age. It demonstrates how advanced technologies are making it easier for learners to digest knowledge and skills. It also incorporates experiential learning which refers to learning by doing. Experiential learning is rooted in cognitive theory, and encourages learners to apply their knowledge in real-life settings, thereby improving their conceptual learning as well. Experience-based learning allows learners to immerse themselves in an experience before reflecting on it, and developing new skills and ways of thinking. Learning is not centered on textbooks, but on the learners. With a multitude of teaching-learning methodologies available today, smart learning can be blended with associative learning, and meaningful learning as well. For example, classroom notes can be supplemented with field trips, performing interesting DIY experiments, watching videos, lab plans, etc. The use of advanced technologies in smart learning education methods helps learners grasp knowledge and skills more efficiently, effectively, and conveniently.

Few smart learning examples:

  • Instead of reading about animals, visit the zoo to observe them.
  • Rather than watching a movie about photosynthesis, creating your garden can teach you about it.

Benefits of smart learning education methods:

  • This learning methodology promotes critical-thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills among students.
  • This method allows students to have a first-hand experience of concepts learned, which helps them bridge the gap between theory and knowledge.
  • Smart learning promotes understanding, not memorisation, and helps us connect new information to prior knowledge, through associative learning.

Drawbacks of smart learning:

  • Students need to experiment with various methods and learning styles, that may require time and patience.
  • In smart learning education methods, the students can access any data and information they need, without much effort and can submit assignments and projects via an online platform.

Rote Learning Vs. Smart Learning

According to educational theorists, rote learning and smart learning are distinct. In the traditional academic set up in India, it is common to see rote learning being emphasised. The rote learning definition insists on the simple memorisation of information or topics, while not focusing much on the relationship between concepts. On the other hand, smart learning involves linking new information to previously learned concepts.

Rote memorisation is not considered higher-level thinking or critical thinking, when it is used as the main method of learning. Some people oppose rote memorisation, arguing that it stunts creativity, and students learn little in terms of thinking, analysing, and solving problems. Rather, these educators advocate improving classroom learning by implementing more constructive strategies of associative and conceptual learning, and believe that students who spend most of their time reiterating the same thing, like in rote learning, are unlikely to build a solid foundation of knowledge. Experts emphasise the importance of deep understanding over the recall of facts. When students indulge in meaningful learning, they can solve problems better than those who learn by rote.

The fact remains that there are different learning styles, and that must be for a reason. Despite their differences, all styles and procedures contribute to an individual's overall learning. It is necessary to seek a synthesis of different learning styles, rather than opting for a single learning style. This is likely to help us enjoy the journey to being life-long learners. Thus, it is imperative that children encash on every learning opportunity, and eventually develop their own learning styles, adding significant value to their natural ones.

Few Tips For Effective Learning

Here are a few tips you can use to learn effectively.

Make Use Of “MNEMONICS”

Mnemonics are ways to improve memory. They help you remember things by associating the information that you want to remember with an image, a sentence, or a word. As a mnemonic example, you must have used VIBGYOR (Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red) to remember the colours of the rainbow.

Other forms of mnemonics include:

  • Visual Imagery: Mental images associated with realistic information are easier to remember. For example, when you see a white "Nehru Cap", you immediately think of Jawahar Lal Nehru, India's first prime minister.
  • Chunking: The chunking process breaks a long list of information, numbers, into smaller and more manageable pieces. For example, remembering a 10-digit phone number is much easier if it is broken down into three parts (e.g. 312- 517-8842) as opposed to one long number (3125178842).

Put All Your Senses To Work

To effectively retain information, use all of your senses instead of just one. Relate colours, tastes, textures, and smells to information. If you are an auditory learner, hold a book in your hand and read aloud the information you want to remember. If you want to remember the information later in the night, you can even recite it rhythmically.

In today's world, maintaining a certain pace of learning is important. With the world moving fast and the competition growing, one needs to keep up. Therefore, smart learning education methodologies are a technological boon to education. It offers the students a better understanding of the concepts, and enables them to achieve academic excellence. To create the most effective learning environment for our students, we must leverage our unique teaching methods, while considering individual learning styles, and keeping an open mind about what will work best for each of us.

Yashodhra Arora is a counselling psychologist. She holds more than 10 years of hands-on experience in HR, and behavioural and career counselling of high school students, in India and the USA.

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