The Summer Forgetfulness Dilemma

The year is 2009. The school year is winding down and coming to its end. It’s getting hot out and you know what that means! This commercial popping up and interrupting my regularly scheduled programs! Yay! (Pure sarcasm) Happens. Every. Dang. Summer.

A commercial for a learning center, hoping to profit on parents’ desperation to ruin their kids lives and make them suffer for having a summer vacation. At least as a young kid, that’s how I saw it. I actually remember thinking that if I went swimming my smarts would come out of my ears. 

To be fair, I never enjoyed school. I lived for time away from whiteboard and locker-lined walls and lamented any modicum of a mention that I should be doing school-related work over the summer.  

Why did I hate learning so much? 

Well, I didn’t. I actually loved it. I thrive on getting better at things I’m passionate about, I absorb new ideas and methods like a sponge. I love enriching my life with new skills. In the summer I would explore the woods behind my house, I’d learn about the bugs and plant-life, build forts. That’s real learning. 

What I hated was memorization and the methods used to enforce that memorization curriculum in school. 

The standard structure of traditional schooling is dependent on memorization. Schools are funded by high attendance and high test scores. And how is memorization enforced? With worksheets. With multiple-paged packets, textbook reading, and flashcards. 

Sit still. Do your work. Memorize. Cry. Look around. Is the teacher watching me? Good. She should know the pain she’s putting me through. I’ll make sure some of my tears land on the worksheet before I turn it in. That’ll really send her a message. 

It’s no wonder my peers and I counted down the months, weeks, days until summer and then always lamented its end- protesting by groaning at the television when we saw a back-to-school commercial- no matter how cute the bedazzled backpacks they were selling looked. 

Education is meant to enrich our lives, not make us feel imprisoned or as though it is something to run from. Let’s learn more by doing. Let’s learn by taking on big, challenging projects that teach us to persevere. How about instead of preparing for written tests we prepare for life by learning how to enjoy life and be happy?

Life experiences and learning through doing will always be more effective than memorization. You don’t tend to forget “up to two months” of that.