"Mind and Memory, Understanding and Delight". Views of Literature and Memory in Education.
Recent educational reforms proposed by current Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, have polarised educators, particularly in regards to the topic of memorisation. To many a return to memorisation is a regressive step, a step back to an era before education became child-centred. Yet there are those who support the move, as a more Conservative opinion favours the return to more traditional ways of teaching and learning. The aim of this project is to outline the current educational debate and examine memorisation in a different but related context, particularly, the deeper and more complex role of memorisation in literature and religious traditions. These often overlapping areas provide an alternative outlook on rote learning, one that views memorisation as a path to spiritual understanding and learning ‘by heart’. The ongoing relevance of memorisation in education is furthered when one considers the drastic rate of technological advances. Information is limitless and can be obtained at the touch of a button; essentially what we know and how we know it are two questions that cannot be ignored in the memorisation debate. (To identify the current role of memorisation within education, a range of international curricula was examined and the requirement of memorisation within the UK and Canadian literacy curriculum in the primary sector, for example, was shown to be virtually non-existent. To develop a deeper understanding of the role of memorisation in education in earlier decades, a range of people were surveyed about their own experiences of rote learning in education in the past 40 -50 years. Finally, individual interviews were conducted to gain deeper insight into those experiences to determine the personal experiences of those who were asked to memorise literary passages).