Organizing and Memorizing: Studies in the Psychology of Learning and Teaching

Organizing and Memorizing: Studies in the Psychology of Learning and Teaching

Organizing and Memorizing: Studies in the Psychology of Learning and Teaching

Organizing and Memorizing: Studies in the Psychology of Learning and Teaching

Excerpt

WHAT ARE the essentials of learning?

Every good teacher enjoys teaching and learning when really sensible learning takes place: when eyes are opened, when real grasping, real understanding occurs, when the transition takes place from blindness or inaptness to orientation, understanding, mastery; and when, in the course of such happenings, mind develops.

Experimental psychological investigations of learning have for the most part taken a direction foreign to these issues. Repetition, drill, has become the focus of investigations; the very concept of learning--the idea of what learning is--seems now for many psychologists to be centered essentially in the feature of repetition, of memorizing. Teachers are often seriously puzzled when they realize that memorizing series of nonsense syllables is taken, broadly, as the appropriate material for establishing the laws of learning.

Historically various factors have brought this about. I mention some. First: Drill is used in school teaching. Although the range of its use has changed through the centuries, it is emphasized that after all we have to learn such things as the alphabet, have to memorize not-understood or not-understandable aggregations, so- called "memory-stuff." Second: In certain developments of philosophy and psychology the assumption has been made that forming connections of this kind (connections between arbitrarily aggregated items or data) is the essential issue for learning; there is the belief--or the hope--that learning of sensible material is nothing but a complication of such connections. Third: Another important factor developed with the aim to make psychology scientific in terms of quantitative, exact investigations in experiments in which all the elements were controllable. To this end the use of nonsense syllables, mazes, and similar material, that is, of arbitrary aggregates of items, seemed technically ideal in contrast to the much . . .

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