So far, the topic of technology and memory seems to be panning out fairly well. The last post ended by asking which things are important to memorize. This source seems to speak rather particularly to this issue: “Of course, it’s a spectrum. We’ll always need to memorize information that would be too clumsy or time-consuming to look up daily: simple arithmetic, common spellings, the layout of our hometown. Without those, we won’t be of much use in our jobs, relationships or conversations.” That is, certain facts are critical to success in life, and some of them are of little use if they aren’t on instant recall. He argues elsewhere that certain things don’t need to be memorized, because “As society marches ever forward, we leave obsolete skills in our wake. That’s just part of progress.” Essentially, outsourcing memorization to technology allows humans to aspire to nobler, more impressive goals. This is an angle on the issue I haven’t yet used in the course of my research: even if memorizing things is in itself good for humans, the extra effort it involves might keep us doing more important things which would benefit mankind even further.
This source doesn’t by any stretch argue that memorizing is in itself bad, but rather that it is insufficient for learning. The example she cites in her third paragraph tells the story of a physics teacher whose students knew Newton’s third law, but struggled to actually apply it. Clearly, not memorizing the formula would not have been a better approach to fully understanding the law. Indeed, some of my other sources discuss how memorization is conducive to understanding. However, it does make an important point: learning requires more than simply memorizing. Thus, in some instances, one can see how memorization is not the most efficient route to conceptual knowledge; sometimes, it can be more efficient to simply understand the concepts themselves, referring to outside sources for particular information when required.
These two sources help to balance out my paper, arguing that memorization can be less critical than one might think.