heard on KFI AM-640 TALK-RADIO
Learning to Memorize without Understanding = a
Children are Not Learning How to Learn – But to
Memorize - By
a classroom has little in common with individual
tutoring. When teaching a class, it isn't possible
to know how one child is really doing or to give
the individual help that is needed. Effective
tutoring requires more than just knowing ‘how'
the student is doing; it takes knowing what is
or isn' t
being understood and why, and what to do
at any given moment. Tutoring success is not only
second nature to me; it's as simple as breathing.
I'll share a few basics that have greatly helped
in my tutoring results.
readers study for memory rather than understanding.
They don't even realize there is a difference
between studying for memory and study for understanding,
because they haven't been educated to study for
understanding. Understanding is the most vital
missing basic not only for the student, but for
the teacher and parent as well. This is why it
is so difficult to help a struggling child; we
hammer in memorization. It is also why so many
children are misdiagnosed with learning disabilities.
readers who struggle, lack this same educational
approach on a lower level. Beginning learners
are taught to memorize beginning level curriculum
without really understanding them as they go.
The alphabet as well as the alphabet sounds is
memorized without an understanding of use. Addition
and subtraction is passed through too swiftly
without mental mastery or ample practical application
in life. Even nursery rhymes are memorized without
understanding if one thinks in terms of what the
words mean within these rhymes. An example might
be, “Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating
her curds and whey…” There are three words that
are most often not within the child's vocabulary,
and so the child cannot understand. But the parent
and child, as well as the teacher, are not aware
of this conceptual barrier. If the child can memorize
it, recite it fluidly, and write it without errors,
it is considered well learned by all. But
what does it mean? What mental images is the child
getting from these words?
the child, ‘what did Miss Muffet sit on?”
If the answer is ‘a tuffet', you might consider
that 100% correct, which is comparable to an ‘A'
if all such questions are answered this way.
should you then ask the child, “What is a tuffet?”
you would soon find yourself looking at a scrunched
up forehead and searching eyes. Following that
will be a shrug of the shoulders often accompanied
by a look of deflation. The child was doing so
well – until you come in and cut through the automatic
memorization mechanisms that were so well in place.
cut through you must, if you want your child to
receive real education. For soon, memorization
will become more deeply implanted and you will
one day be shocked to find that your child's vocabulary
is years behind. Take the ‘Pledge of Allegiance'
as a more advance example. Ask your child the
meanings of the words, and don't leave out the
little ones, such as ‘to', ‘of', ‘for' and such.
These words have exact meanings and to not know
them conceptually, will prevent understanding
– even if your child spends hours learning the
bigger words. Try changing a few of them around
and try it yourself.
with this solution of real education, another
problem yet remains, and that is that by the time
these words are learned, the class has long since
gone on to other things – all of which are certain
to contain words not within your child's vocabulary.
to keep up, we resort to memorization and formulate
tests to accommodate memorization and do little
to consult understanding. In this way, we can
accomplish a bright and shiny ‘A', when an honest
test might otherwise result in a ‘D' or ‘F'.
is a shocking awakening for almost every parent
and teacher who encounters a demonstration of
hidden learning deficiencies. The realization
that we have pushed and pressured and sometimes
blamed our children for those academic areas where
memorization cannot hide lack of proficiency,
weighs heavily. And the added realization of the
hours and often years of useless time wasted can
may seem an impossible task when one realizes
that ‘catch up' will require first backing way
up and slowly moving forward and through again
– this time studying for understanding at one's
own pace. This is the only way to become truly
was a time when it was difficult to get parents
to see that a break for re-educating was more
important than keeping up the grades in the short
term. Some parents panic with no time to catch
up and missing an assignment or studying correctly
for a test was unthinkable. These parents wanted
the results of real education, but didn't have
time to stop for them. So they requested tutoring
in the assignment, which on my part would necessitate
explaining information or helping the student
to memorize without understanding. This became
unacceptable to me when so many students were
really getting a solid re-education and passing
up the others so swiftly. In 1989, I change my
policies and would only accept for tutoring, those
who I could teach to study for understanding and
application in life. My rewards have been great
in doing so and through parent attestation I became
an award-winning tutor with unsurpassed successes.
is much more to know besides this concept of understanding
the words. This is not merely one skill. It is
a network of more basic skills that must be mastered
and built upon before a student can utilize them
in independent study. Home schooled children have
the greatest advantage in the catch-up phase,
but few have the techniques or know how to teach
them. One three-month program with the child and
parent together provides the surest guarantee
of re-education, or for beginning learners, an
education that will far surpass the most successful
home school or private school education.
are many teaching tools that can be better learned
from curriculum selection to communication and
patience, just to name a few. One enlightening
Orientation seminar/workshop on just a few of
my areas of expertise can change your child's
future for the better in many, many ways. It's
not a serious thing; seminars are fun and rewarding.
Bring a friend or two and try one of my free introductory
Tracy Sherwood, award-winning
Tutor, is author of ‘Superphonics'. She has tutored
all ages and subjects for thirty years and is tutor
to celebrities. She specializes in children who
really try but are struggling because they cannot
focus, concentrate, retain or conceptualize to learn.
From programs for beginning and struggling children
to techniques for advanced students, Tracy
Tutoring Assessment: 1-888-KFI-TUTOR
and Palmdale call 661-588-4089
program location is now at
Legacy Court Bakersfield CA
Estates, west of Allen Rd off Stockdale Hwy
location is in Rancho Vista area
25th west and Rancho Vista