“I have never understood the importance of having children memorize battle dates. It seems like such a waste of mental energy. Instead, we could teach them important subjects such as How the Mind Works, How to Handle Finances, How to Invest Money for Financial Security, How to be a Parent, How to Create Good Relationships, and How to Create and Maintain Self-Esteem and Self-Worth. Can you imagine what a whole generation of adults would be like if they had been taught these subjects in school along with their regular curriculum?”
― Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life
One of our battles in homeschooling is determining how much of a traditional education our children should receive and how much education should be focused on thinking outside the box. Do we teach memorization because it’s always been done this way or because it’s necessary?
Honestly, I feel torn on this topic. On the one hand, there are certain
things which I highly encourage my children to memorize. The multiplication facts are extremely important, wouldn’t you agree? As a Christian, I cheer for my children when they memorize Scripture.
On the other hand, do they need to remember the date of every single battle during WWII or just the important dates? Will they honestly need to recall the capital of every state?
Perhaps this is where wisdom comes into play.
Each of our children has certain gifts unique to them. Within the realm of homeschooling, I have the privilege of watching their gifts develop and helping my children determine if they will carry over into adult life. Knowing what those gifts are and wanting to build learning around those possibilities, I then have the ability to determine which aspects of their education need more focus than others.
History in particular seems to be the thorn in everyone’s side. All those dates!! History is important, we cannot move forward if we have not learned from the past. However, unless our child plans to become an historian or an archeologist, are all those dates really necessary?
(My husband points out that dates are there to help us remember the order in which things occur and the general proximity of the event. True, true. I will not argue that the sequence of events shouldn’t be taught, I am merely questioning how many of those dates need be memorized.)
“But how do you know your child won’t become interested in that field in the future?”, you ask? I don’t and, frankly, I don’t know that it matters. Hear me out….
If I am teaching the fundamental principles behind major events (e.g. What brought about WWII, the course of events, the results of choices made, and the effects of the war) then the proper groundwork has already been laid. If, later in life, my child decides she no longer wants to be a rocket scientist and instead becomes an historian, the only thing left for my child to learn is the dates!
Do you see my point? If we are teaching the fundamentals (teaching them to see the situation, break it down to the bare roots, discuss the condition, and follow its path to the end), going back to memorize dates and other details should be a walk in the park.
I only have my children for a limited time. I can either spend hours on end drilling them to memorize things that will not carry over into their adult lives, or I can use that time to hone their skills in the areas which will most benefit their futures and encourage a love of learning.
Is memorization important? Definitely. Knowing exactly what they should memorize is a whole ‘nother ball game. Each family must determine that for themselves, through the wisdom and leading of God.
A note to my own kids… you still have to learn your times table. Sorry!
Time to Chime In: How do you feel about memorization?
“Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.”
– Proverbs 6:21-22