The role of memory in your child’s learning.

source url Modern approaches to education have moved away from the expectation that children should learn vast tracts of information by heart and be able to reproduce or recite it whenever called upon to do so.  We should be grateful for that!

http://painconsult.com/Innovate/page/2/ However, the opposite extreme is possibly even worse. This is the belief that children should not have to store any information in their brains because everything is available at the click of an internet button. This idea is not helpful. In reality the brain needs to store information because information is the raw material of knowledge-building. Put another way, the brain needs to remember information in order to think. Fortunately, the brain is rather good at this, but we need to give it a helping hand.

buy generic proscar online One theory of how our memories work is called the multi-store memory theory. This theory posits that the brain has three levels of information storage, as follows:

  1. The ‘sensory memory’ is what the brain remembers of what we see and hear around us. This is extremely short term. We forget these things almost instantly, within three seconds at the longest. That is a blessing! Can you imagine if you could remember everything you ever saw or heard in your life? We may be unreliable witnesses in court cases, but at least we retain our sanity!
  2. The ‘short-term memory’ is our working memory. This is the memory we use when we are thinking. We cannot hold much in our short-term memory, and only for a short period of time. This is why when we are researching a topic from a book we keep having to return to the book to re-acquaint ourselves with the information that we have already forgotten. We can remember small chunks of information that we can ‘rehearse’ (repeat to ourselves) within a time limit of a second or two (such as a telephone number) but beyond that we soon lose it. However, there is a solution to this problem: we can transfer the information to our long-term memory.
  3. The ‘long-term memory’ lasts forever. It is only cut short by accidents to the brain or by diseases such as dementia. The problem is that we are not very efficient at uploading information into our long-term memory for storage. Nor are we very good at down-loading it again when we need to use the information in our short-term memory in order to think. That is why children – and adults – find learning so difficult!

The multi-store theory of memory has several implications for parents and teachers wanting to help their children become good learners. Here are three of those implications:

side effects of toprol xl 50 mg First, if you overload the child with too many facts when she is trying to learn something new, she will not remember it. The short-term memory cannot cope. The learning will be lost forever.

Secondly, if teachers and parents teach facts alone, their children will not be able to use this information for thinking effectively even if they manage to transfer lots of these facts to their long-term memory. It will be useless information, because the facts are random and not linked together. That is why teachers and parents should help their children remember facts within the framework of higher level concepts. Concepts are like the drawers in an office filing system, making knowledge easy to find and use. Here is an example: If you teach a child lots of facts about the various ways in which we generate electricity, she will almost certainly forget most of it. But if she is taught about the methods of generating electricity within the wider concept of ‘energy is convertible from one form to another’, she will have a framework in which to remember the facts. The facts will make sense to her. She will be able to use her knowledge in any situation,  and approach new learning on the subject at any time in the future.

Thirdly, do not think that your child cannot thing conceptually just because she is rather young or because it concepts are ‘difficult’. They are not. By not teaching at a conceptual level we place limits on our children, something good schools and knowledgeable parents never, ever do.

If you’d like to learn more about all this, you may wish to refer to the books mentioned below.

Thank you

Hattie J., and Yates G. (2014). Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn. This is a wonderful book that I have mentioned before. It is based on the latest research in many areas of student learning, and is arranged in short and highly readable chapters.

Jean Piaget (1970). Genetic epistemology. This and Piaget’s other writings are absolute classics. His research on children’s cognitive development remains a bedrock of modern education. However – Piaget is not such an easy read!

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