One of the great things about something like CHEC is we get to chat with colleagues. We talked about the limitations of memorization. In one example, some might be tempted to memorize all the kings of England. Most would agree that's a bit of a waste of time unless we are becoming an expert in British history. Memorizing isn't useful at all if it's temporary. We're talking about permanently memorizing important information to help us solve problems and understand the world. We'll need to know what’s going to be important before we start memorizing. Remember, memorization alone is not an education. We only memorize things to make understanding easier.
Let’s look at a couple of examples. Suppose I told you that "Cassini was such an interesting spacecraft. It’s voyage to Saturn began with a visit to Venus." Now that sentence would not as meaningful as it was intended to be unless we know that Venus is closer to the sun than earth, and Saturn was much, much further away. Without knowing the order of the planets, we think Cassini just visited the two planets, but if we do know the order, we realize Cassini’s voyage began with a journey in the other direction. The memory work is necessary to quickly understand the sentence.
Another example would be how we choose Bible memory verses. We don’t memorize any random passage because once we’re done, we’ll never have a need for it again. We need to know what is important enough to memorize and the way to know that is to have a bigger picture. We need to know what Bible verses capture key principles for our life in Christ.
My life of faith, like yours, has been at times challenging and not without great cost. And when I reflect on the cost what comes to mind is 2 Timothy 1:12 “For this reason, I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him until that Day”. Suddenly I can see my struggles in perspective knowing with confidence that it is the very word of God that he keeps my commitments and sacrifices. The memorized text, however, isn’t meaningful outside of the personal experience, that a life of faith will often seem less advantageous and sacrificial.
Memorization alone is not an education, it’s a way of connecting with factual information so that it is available to recall and connect while forming deep understanding about big ideas. Whether it be long division, stories of the cosmos, or historical fiction, memorization is like one leg of a table. It is meaningless without the top, but without it the top is wobbly.
Perhaps we could make nominations for the other three legs. The first might be clear reasoning and logic; the second knowing how to learn; and, the third understanding different points of view.