Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorization by rotary learning


 "A serious man in dealing with really serious subjects carefully avoids writing,"  lamented Plato about the spread of writing. He considered only unwritten knowledge to be deeper and more seasoned, because it can stand up against arguments. Also, the emergence of human thought prior to the wide spread prevalence of writing is notable. A great number of philosophers and sages — many of them well known today, Jesus, Buddha, Plato, Aristotle. Laozi (Lao-Tzu) and others — addressed the most important philosophical, scientific questions of human thought. Their questions remain relevant and in some cases remain unresolved to this day. The identity of great thinkers might be preserved for history because of writing, but their work might be just a time capsule of thousands of years of verbal evolution of thought that was solidified and frozen in permanent, written record.

To find an answer it is important to go back to Plato's lament about memorization and seasoned thought. Today the accepted view is that learning must be based on understanding. Finding logical connections in a new material makes learning fun, exciting and motivating. However, in any subject matter lots of information fall outside this requirement. This is particularly true for basic knowledge that forms the foundation, such as vocabulary, or basic definitions. Rotary memorization takes a conscious effort, but forms automatic associations because of long term potentiation between neuronal connections. In addition, forming new connections weakens old associations, which increases mental flexibility. Instead of analyzing elementary relationships, a larger picture can emerge. This makes rotary learning invaluable.

The importance of emotion in memorization and learning has been shown by Kimberly et al. Greater emotional experiences impact mental focus to a greater extent and consequently better remembered. In addition, negative emotional experiences are remembered even better than positive ones, as sensational, violent experiences compete for students' attention in school. Csikszentmihalyi and Hunter has shown that acquiring psychological capital by learning imbues long-term happiness and even well-being. Positive attitude in school work makes learning pleasurable and highly efficient, especially if concepts are actively discovered. Rote learning is viewed as an old fashioned, shallow learning method, which has no place within contemporary school. Rotary learning, prevalent in Asian countries, has another benefit, as a form of meditation, enhances mood and imparts patience and emotional stability. Rotary learning of course also enhances mental capital, which comes in handy when taking international tests or apply for higher learning. Patience and emotional stability as a direct result of rotary learning can take us back to Plato. Rock-solid foundation of knowledge is a great benefit during debates, because it imparts fluid, seasoned connections between material, leading to confidence. A person with solid mental ground cannot be shaken easily. Although  confidence does not grade the validity of knowledge, debate does, which again proves Plato point. Debate creates a solid framework, on which to file away knowledge. In writing it is far easier easy to cover up inconsistencies in argument, as the falsities of immense number 'scientific ideas' of past well demonstrate. It might also explains why the depth of philosophical discussions in antiquity was rarely surpassed until today. In coming years, how relevant will the sea of scientific information published in prestigious journals remain? 

How to build a better society? Lively social, political and scientific conversation and debate on social media forms a better society. This would naturally weed out unreliable, fake news items. Well informed citizenry is emotionally stable and makes good decisions even at the ballot box.

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