[Milton-L] Memorization

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 22 18:16:37 EST 2004


I'd agree with Kent that rote memorization (without understanding) is a
pointless task, and I would guess that even a bright 10th grader would lack
the maturity or the comfort with Elizabethan text to comprehend Hamlet's
philosophical disquisition on suicide and the inertia caused by
over-cautious contemplation of future action in any serious sense. I think
those of us who are advocating memorization mean commission to memory
accompanied by the kind of profound analysis that makes the words part of
the reciter: not mere sounds, like an empty catechism
(ibelieveinonegodthefatheralmightymakerof heavenandearth), but living,
vibrant speech, rendered such because the student has made it meaningful for
himself or herself.

The opposite situation may have been at the root of a rather interesting ad
for a retirement village seen by a former colleague of mine in an airline
flight magazine. Underneath an aerial photo of the beautiful wooded campus
with its swimming pool, tennis court, golf course, and recreation center was
the caption, "A fine and private place"---perhaps the result of memorizing
rather than understanding Marvell's poem?

Best to all,

Carol Barton


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