Rote Memorization is Killing Learning says Melanie West

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Melanie West, the go to parenting expert for the school years, spoke at this year's TEDx Manhattan Beach. After discussing how rote memorization is harming students' abilities to learn, she called on the audience to teach kids in a more visual manner.

Rote memorization at the early stages of learning can have a crippling effect on the developing brain.

On Saturday, October 22, 2011, Melanie West addressed a packed auditorium at this year’s TEDx Manhattan Beach.

She discussed how her career as an educational psychologist has shown that rote memorization kills learning for many children.

“Rote memorization at the early stages of learning (kindergarten through 2nd grade) can have a crippling effect on the developing brain,” said Melanie. “It can often cause long-term weaknesses in a child’s overall ability to learn.”

In her presentation, Melanie discussed just how harmful rote memorization can be.

For instance, Melanie said that rote memorization techniques most commonly used to teach children how to read do not teach young learners how to build meaning for the words. Therefore, there is no true learning taking place.

This has drastic effects on our education system.

“Schools consider 50 to 60% of all students as having an ‘average to below average’ ability to learn. However, these measures are wrong. Schoolwork and testing most often assess a student’s ability to think with language, not the student’s overall intelligence.”

Furthermore, when a young child engages in rote memorization activities, the brain does not learn how to build critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Melanie reached out to the crowd at the end of her speech. She said memorization does not work. Instead, we need to teach our children to visualize meaning for every word in order to create dynamic, engaging learning.

About Melanie West

Both an accomplished educational psychologist and mother of four, Melanie West has devoted her life to helping children succeed both in school and in life. Over the past 15 years, Melanie has helped thousands of parents understand their children’s behavior and learning, allowing them to resolve even the toughest of problems.

To contact Melanie, please visit


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Melanie West