Learning Lines

“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. HayYou Can Heal Your Life

Learning LinesOne 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

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13 thoughts on “Learning Lines

  1. I never have been good at memorizing dates. Ever. I even had trouble with “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492” one. The only ones that stuck were, 1776 for America’s Declaration of Independence, 1812 for the war of, well, 1812, and Lewis and Clark went on their expedition around 1802-1805ish. That’s the extent of my knowledge. And it hasn’t hampered me. If I really want to become a history teacher, sure, I’ll memorize the dates, but before then? Nah. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dates were always a thorn in my side, but I have found that teaching the “reason behind everything” is always more important. That way we can learn from the past the important reasons of “why” so as to not repeat them again. Of course in Ecclesiastes chapter 1 –especially 1:9–That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
    So, yes it is important to know about the wars and what caused them and maybe when they were and who was involved, but dates that are important to me, I have always remembered. If my children are interested in something enough then I have found that they will learn it on their own (mine are 12 and 14) and can tell you just about every detail of the who, when, and how behind it all. I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving and may God Bless you in whatever way is needed. ❤

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  3. I have one kiddo who has a photographic memory. He can recall just about everything with ease and my daughter (and me)…not so much. Though she loves the details, asks really interesting questions, and recalls the information well enough. That is definitely one of the joys of homeschooling, catering to the uniqueness of our kiddos. With that said, I do insist on both of them memorizing multiplication facts and their weekly scripture verses. Thanks for sharing this! ~Blessings~

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  4. My struggle to find a history program my son liked has been our biggest struggle. We finally settled on a crash course on you tube and are both relieved. I definitely didn’t want something that memorized dates, but that worked for my verbal learner and explained the important events that have shaped the world. He is happier and willing to do the work, so that is my indicator that we are on the right track. His strengths are math and science and I am relieved to know these crash courses will work for US History and Government as well. Memorizing dates has done nothing to help me in life, so very confident this path is correct.

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  5. As a former history teacher, I don’t believe in memorizing a ton of dates for the sake of memorizing stuff, but 1) memorize as many as you can because someday a general idea will be all you recall; 2) memorizing material is good for your brain, 3) Kids are more capable of memorizing than we often give them credit for. My 5 yo memorized two pages of lines for an hour play for church. (and corrects everyone else’s parts too.) So, Yes, make them memorize dates, but pick a few important ones, a few lesser important ones, and a few events they really liked or did extra research on. As much as possible tie those events to activities and other learning. We remember best when we make connections with the material. Focus on the people, the historical periods, important innovations, and make them memorize those things!! There are so many things in this world that take a fundamental understanding of general knowledge, the kind you get from a good education and lots of reading, so bring in fiction based in that time period and written in that period to make it come alive. This comment is probably disjointed, we spent 4 hours in the car today driving to get to Pioneer Days Field Trip with our co-op. I’m so tired.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Get some good books on mnemonics – decent memory techniques cut the memorising time to a fraction. Both my son (12) and daughter (15) memorise history dates, names of important people and the dates of their important researches in Science, phone numbers and birthdays. We do it all over lunch together for just a few minutes at a time and they know tons all because we have an excellent memory method 🙂

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  7. Memorization is important, but knowing what to memorize is a whole ‘nother ball game. That’s right said! I was kind of student who had to memorize all those names, dates, etc when I grew up now I feel like, gosh I’m wasting my time, I forgot most of things anyway except ones that really captured my interest. And beside now there is google, I can just search.. Lol. So for my kids, I’d let them learn “the why” and we enjoy a good discussion about it, hopefully and intentionally it will lit the spark of genuine interest in them that they remember it by heart without feeling obliged to memorize.

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