It’s common nowadays to hear this from school leaders: “Kids don’t need to memorize anything now that we have Google.” Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, takes on this misconception in the Huffington Post. He writes:

…in the hustle to get beyond memory we miss some fine things. The drudgery that comes with memorizing a longish poem, for example, often amply repays itself. The poem is afterwards there when you need it. It can crystallize a feeling you couldn’t quite bring to the surface. It can dart out as a phrase from a friend that reveals a secret commonality.

Earlier generations spoke of memorizing literature as “furnishing the mind,” and that’s exactly what it feels like. We end up furnished not just with words strung together but with ready ways of seeing and feeling that prompt us to look closer, listen better, and perhaps speak more clearly.

Image by Nic McPhee.

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