Memorizing Is Not Learning

By Bob Larrivee posted 09-04-2012 11:33


According to the Encarta Dictionary, to learn is to acquire knowledge or skills while to memorize is to commit something to memory. Over the years I have seen many cases where one attends a class or spends time studying materials to “learn” something new and pass an exam to earn credentials. For many, what they are in fact doing is memorizing the materials to pass the exam but they do not always have an ability to put it all in context for application.

I remember as a kid, learning the multiplication tables along with spelling and grammar, but having no idea how it all applied. What I did was memorize them without context to apply what I now knew, which to me meant I did not learn. The fact that 2 x 2 = 4 is a wonderful thing but what does it mean and how does it apply to anything I could possibly use in the future or in life? Certainly I was able to pass an exam seeking the correct answer of 4, but what else did I gain from this? The fact that I had memorized these things had no relevance until later years when I was taught how it could and would be applied in daily life. This is true of many things we are taught. Until you understand the context and application, it is information memorized and absorbed with no relevance.

In my view, the most important element of learning is to understand how what is taught applies. The fact that you have memorized throughput formulas, taxonomic structure and any other information is good but until you are able to put it in context and know how it applies to your situation, you have not learned anything; you have merely stored it in memory for future recall. One of my Middle School teachers taught me this simple approach to learning rather than memorizing. He said that as you study and collect new information being taught think about how you might apply this to your daily life whether it be personal or business centric.

The fact that 2 x 2 = 4 is a good thing to know but when you think of it in terms of purchasing, or calculating materials to be used in construction it takes on a whole new meaning. You are now applying what you have been taught to a real world situation and in this way, you have learned something valuable. In our world, it is good to know about taxonomies and the variations to choose from, but it is only when you can apply what you know, that you realize you have learned something valuable.

If you are ready to move forward and are finding yourself stuck or unfocused and are not sure where to begin or what to do next, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started. Be sure to investigate AIIM's Enterprise Content Management training program.

And be sure to read the AIIM Training Briefing on ECM (authored by yours truly). Click on the image to download and read. 

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.


Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM
Email me:

Follow me on Twitter – BobLarrivee    



09-08-2012 06:18

Well Said by Bob Larrivee i think you make me feel about this logic apply on every business that's why introduced a software for business efficiency to increase hr reliability over it also make it easier for employer to keep there account with it online This is a attendance software or we can say it vacation tracker.
vacation track

09-05-2012 05:54

And be sure to read the AIIM Training Briefing on ECM (authored by yours truly). Click on the image to download and read.