Repetitio mater studiorum est/Repetition is the mother of study/learning, says a Latin proverb. Through the centuries, memorizing has become synonymous with a painful, even traumatizing process of loading the mind of young students with huge chunks of unnecessary, uncritical conveyed information.
Even today, for many people learning means to learn by heart what it was taught in class and what is written in the textbook. This is paradoxically considered a “solid” schooling by people who, when dragged through this type of educational system, were fed up with it and couldn’t wait to get to the end of it, as the recruit in the compulsory military service.
No wonder then, that in the wake of the revolutionary changes from the second half of the 20th century in the Western societies a popular rock band, Pink Floyd, made waves with their song “We Don’t Need No Education”.
The advocates of alternative ways of education, developing pioneering ideas from the past and coming up with new ones, have gained considerable ground: notwithstanding the differences, all the educational reformers are focusing on creativity, critical thinking, informal learning environment, tailored to the individual.
So, is repetition an obsolete method? Is it a thing of a past of dreary reminiscence?
Hermann EBBINGHAUS (1877-1909), a German scholar, opened new vistas in the realm of psychology. His contributions had been favorably received in the academic circles and, beyond usual limitations for all scientific research, are respected to this day.
Conducting experiences on himself, Ebbinghaus wrapped up the results in such striking concepts as “learning curve” and “forgetting curve”. Based on his conclusions, the process of learning, objectively always linked to memory, can be organized in a more effective way – it is about timing. To be sure, only a revolutionary technical or, more appropriately, tactical use of repetition for memorizing is not enough to bring a significant change in learning. It needs integration in a set of conditions aimed to free the learner from the coercitive frames of traditional schooling. A large part of online games are an educational tool of choice, where the Ebbinghaus’ innovative approach of understanding the memory and the friendly, attractive learning environment are adding lustre to the old Latin saying Repetitio mater studiorum est.
By Cristi V. Andrei