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Topic: memorizing math facts
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Aubrey Campbell

Posts: 1
Registered: 12/6/04
memorizing math facts
Posted: Dec 22, 1999 10:32 AM
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I am new to this SIG and would like to add a bit of myunderstanding
about the topic.

Understanding mathematical facts allows for easier memorization. In
fact, I think that it follows almost 'naturally'. It is when the math
facts are 'played with' in the mind that new understanding and insight
emerges, that new theories are developed and proven, with the facts
ready at hand. Rote memorization to me means mindless storing of facts
- the mind does not comprehend the facts and therefore the 'learner'
can do little more than reproduce the facts as they were stored. A
person who understands the facts she/he learnt can recombine them in
novel ways to produce new insights.

But I think there are limits to what one can expect students to
memorize. I think it would be unproductive to expect students to
memorize long lists and tables of formulae and data. For example,
memorizing long lists of calculus formulae and topics like the
periodic table of elements seem to me a waste of time. Time would be
better spent to truly understand the rules about how the things fit
together than committing all the various elements to memory. The same
with the formulae.

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