The difference between memorization and learning
In order to learn something, you must understand it. You might become so insightful and facile with the ideas that it appears you’ve memorized them, but that’s just a side effect.
Rote memorization can be done in some fields, and you can even recite what you’ve memorized to someone else who can memorize it. For example: You can’t learn alphabetical order, you can only memorize it.
On the other hand, memorizing anything that you’ll need to build upon, improvise on or improve is foolish. You’ll need to do the work of understanding it instead.Seth Godin
In my school and university career, I did really well up to a point by “rote learning”, by using memorising and other tools to cram information into my head. However, in my professional education after that (to become a Chartered Accountant), there was progressively more emphasis on understanding a topic, up to the final “TPC” (Test of Professional Competence) exam, which was a full day, “open book” case study.
In short, testing whether or not we were ready to be “competent professionals” was not based on pulling facts or figures from a textbook, but from us being able to show we had gained a deep understanding of what we needed to be a Chartered Accountant, that we had learned.
Moving to another level of learning, that of embodied learning. I wrote a long post recently on this, noting around a learning experience:
I truly felt and still feel it deeply. It is an embodied learning, no words are necessary, it is “in me”.
I am still (and always will be) on a journey to learn new ways to learn. I am, you could say, looking to understand how to learn, and that is, I feel, the essence, seeking to understand is the root of learning. Be curious, be humble, always look to understand more.
Also published on Medium.