The start of the new school year will invariably include pleas by principals to make learning fun. But the truth is learning often requires discipline that is by its very nature boring (“What I Learned in Secretarial School,” The New York Times, Aug. 12).
I’m thinking now of the importance of rote memorization. Unfortunately, it has fallen out of favor because it is seen as antithetical to creativity. But there are rules that need to be learned and retained if creativity is ever to develop. Every subject taught requires memorization if mastery is to follow. I remember having to memorize rules for spelling, for learning Spanish etc. Students today are rarely required to do so. Perhaps that’s why grammar is no longer taught in most schools. Students complain that it’s boring. Their inability to write clearly is the price paid for caving in to their demands.
Learning is a process that is built on a sequence of skills and knowledge. Teachers can’t always make their instruction fun and enjoyable. I’m not saying they shouldn’t try, but I am saying that students are shortchanged when they are not required to memorize.
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