It is often claimed that traditional Asian ways of teaching encourage students to memorise facts – so-called rote learning. The Western way, in contradistinction to this, it is claimed, is to teach children to think for themselves and to be critical – to be analytical.
Like all generalisations, these ones hold some truth, but they hardly tell the whole story. Far from it, in fact.
Rote learning, as we popularly understand, aims first and foremost at filling students’ minds with substance – with facts – that they can then ruminate over.
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