>> After wandering through this argument I have discovered my own
>> position. Memorizing is valuable only when we show at the same time
>> how and why something was made, and if we balance memory with
>> practice--problem-solving, stragice learning etc.
>I'm hesitant even to accept this . . . "we show at the same time"
>sounds to me a lot like "we say at the same time." How does that
>translate into classroom action?
Well, let me explain or rather explore a little more.
First, I agree with you that I always remember what I have invested in for
my own reasons far more than what other people have required that I
remember. At U of T we were required to memorize large sections of
Shakespeare for exam purposes. I remember almost nothing of these sequences
although I appreciate the poetry whenever I hear it. HOwever, I have a
darned good memory for ideas, concepts etc that I wanted at one time to
learn (part of this has to do with a learning strategy that involves journals)
Also the kind of teaching that requires memorized sections of poems etc
sometimes (not always) does treat poems as things--almost like party tricks
that one can drop into a conversation and thereby acquire some cultural capital.
On the other hand, we could go back to some of the classical teaching
techniques which required some forms of imitation. So in other words, taking
a bit of Shakespeare and locating the figures and tropes and then imitating
them with different diction. I have done some of this kind of thing with
students. Oddly enough they think it's a blast. I usually give them a
wonderful topic to work on. Sin works well, as does love. Candy works too.
Strangely enough we usually spin off into discussions of grammar--but it's a
discussion on grammar, not a lesson on grammar. You know--like what happens
if you put a noun here, and how come that adjective totally throws off that
Then we often spin off into how Shakespeare was the greatest professional
writer of his period. today he would probably be a multi-media specialist.
After all the stage was a medium, his actors were a medium, and his language
--well what can one say.
No I don't teach Shakespeare-- but maybe sometimes I inadertently do. A
word master is a word master.
So that Russ is how in this one instance I try to show how something is made.
Funny, many times the students remember real well the sections we worked on.
Catherine F. Schryer
Dept. of English
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
(519) 885-1211 (ext 3318)