Project work vs. memory?

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Today I’m changing and I’m putting aside technology. Those of you who follow this blog will already know that I find the technology useful if it helps us to improve methodologies in the classroom and organization of center. And today I will speak about methodology in the classroom.

It’s pre-registration time and, as a father, I’ve gone to different open doors of different institutes. Project work seems to be in vogue and practically all the centres I have visited were flagged in one way or another. I already find it positive, although I find it somewhat surprising how easy it is to sell. I’ve been working on projects for years and I find it difficult to make good projects. But that is not the point I want to make.

It turns out that there is a duality between project work and memoristic work. Looks like one of them’s excluding the other. Moreover, it seems as if the memoristic work has lost sympathy and is now the enemy to overcome. A concrete example. In one of the centres, a person from whom we attended the talk as an audience asked the following question:”From now on you can no longer play Trivial? (referring to students not knowing the answers). Another assistant added:”Shouldn’t students learn the list of irregular verbs?”.

I sincerely hoped you would deny both questions, but you did not. The response was that the centre prioritised other aspects of learning that were more important than memorized learning. We were trying to make students competent!

I am a strong proponent of project-based work, but can you be proficient in English without knowing irregular verbs? I didn’t understand.

A specific example apart, it is a trend that I see and which I sincerely do not share. Certainly, learning cannot be solely memoristic. Of course! And it is also true that we have to be very careful with what things students are asked to learn by heart. Of course! But from there to suggest that there is no need to learn anything by heart, there is a great leap forward.

Sometimes, things get more mixed up talking about exams. There are many of us (and I include myself) who do not do memorization tests for students. Specifically, I don’t do any memorization tests on my students. Does that mean I don’t think memory is important? No way! No way! It’s an aspect I evaluate, but I use other ways than the test.

For example, when students make an oral presentation (a presentation), it needs to be memorized. They prepare a topic or an experience and end up presenting it to their peers (or their families). They are clear about how to make a good oral presentation (what needs to be done to be competent) and must learn concepts of memory. They don’t have to be parrots, but there are concepts that they must understand, apply and, finally, explain by heart.

Going to an example that’s not my specialty. Do students need to know the date of the Spanish civil war and its causes? It seems very obvious to me that it is. How will they understand the world we live in if they don’t know where we come from? Now, does this mean that we have to give them an expository class (with or without a textbook), give them homework to answer questions, and finally give them an exam to prove that they know (and perhaps they have not understood it)? No!

We could look for other strategies to accompany them in this memoristic learning. Perhaps you can watch some informative videos, research and end up preparing a short play based on the beginning of the war. I’m sure that in the preparation process, without having to bend the elbows, many important aspects will have already memorized them.

For me, memory remains a key factor for learning. Without memory one cannot be competent. And, when we work on projects, we can tend to forget it. We don’t want any parrot students. We want students to understand the concepts. But we also want students to remember these concepts that they have learned and understood. Only in this way will they be able to relate them to the new ones they are learning.

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