Retort Against "Memorization is not learning"

Let's assume our memory (the one you use for memorization, think short term memory) has a cache size of S (S is a variable term and it changes with time.)

We encounter new information everyday. When new information comes into memory, it does a condition check -

  • If it fits our past experience/our prior, it gets converted into understanding and gets removed from our cache.
  • If they don't fit our prior, they stay in memory and sometimes gets dropped if the cache is full. Let's assume that the drop rate is K.

Let's say you acquire new information at a rate R.

Let's imagine that a new unit of information you saw that you were able to understand reminded you of another piece of information that you don't yet grasp that has been sitting in your memory. By linking the two, you effectively convert the unit information that has been sitting in your memory into understanding. The information then gets removed from your memory. Let's assume that knowledge conversion rate from memory to understanding (long term memory) is Q.

Variable summary list: 

  • knowledge acquisition rate: R
  • knowledge absorption rate: Q
  • memory cache size: S
  • knowledge drop rate from memory: K

I argue, much of what schools offer is actually just: teaching loads of related information in a condensed period of time. 

  • teaching
  • loads of related information
  • in a condensed period of time (i.e., the academic term).
  1. "Teaching" - very obviously increases your knowledge absorption rate Q.
  2. "Loads of information" ensures that S (cache size) gets pushed higher to its limit, and so does the knowledge acquisition rate R (because you have a higher rate of essentially encounter new information).
  3. Schools then further ensure that we maximize the cache hit rate by increasing the volume of knowledge by offering "Loads of information". "In a condensed period of time", so we minimize the effect of knowledge drop rate K since our memory decays with time.

The ideal learning would have Q (knowledge absorption rate) equal to R (knowledge acquisition rate), while ensuring that you have a very big R (because you can imagine a cheat where R is really small, and you know everything that you read.). This would mean that knowledge is absorbed at a rate it comes in and very importantly, knowledge is acquired at a high rate at the same time. For the two (high R, and Q/R == 1) to happen at the same time, it is too ideal and it does not happen in practice.

Then, to be a good learner, here is your objective function list:

  • max(Q/R)--> 1
  • min(K)
  • max(S)
  • max(R)

In summary, this is my retort to "Memorization is not learning" - "Memorization is the foundation to effective learning".

This article is written predicated on the fact that "Learning is understanding the new concepts and ideas."

You can expand the idea of learning to also entail "retention of the knowledge". My claim still remains true in this case.