Memorization and Critical Thinking

Blogging season is winding down for me. I leave in a week for the adventure of a lifetime. Or at least of my first 25 years. I fly to California next Thursday (26th) and head to Yosemite Valley to hike the John Muir Trail on the 29th. Then, flying to Tulsa for Twitter Math Camp. I couldn’t be more excited for the next month of my life, I’m antsy just thinking about it.

Meantime, this post from Ben Orlin really struck a chord with me. The writings of E.D. Hirsch were a huge influence on me as I began my teaching career, and figuring out what they mean for math — balancing inquiry and repetition, pushing students to understand, but also to be able to do — has been a huge challenge for me, and will continue to be a challenge.

Anyway, read it. He says it better than I could. Understanding doesn’t mean not memorizing. It means memorizing and, or memorizing because. Because knowledge is important, and it cannot die in the name of critical thinking.

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