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Graph Theory and Education

  1. Aug 20, 2011 #1
    When we are young we are taught about two kinds of memory. There is long term memory and their is short term memory. Students are taught to memorize facts though repetition but is repetition of a fact in a 4-8 moth period enough to retain a significant portion of that information over a long period of time (4 or more years)?

    Long term memory is semantic in that we remember things in long term memory better by what they mean and how they relate to other facts we know then as random single pieces of information. How much of your parents university degree do they remember and if education is what you are left with once you have forgotten everything then what is the value of an education?

    In order to retain a significant portion of what is learned though education we must not only reinforce the facts and concepts but we must also reinforce the relationships between various concepts we learn and the relationships between what we learn and the real world.

    In the early years of education we can plan education so what the students will use the most is taught first. As we build upon that knowledge if the most important concepts are taught first then in later years of education we will face a dilemma because students who more easily see the relevance of what is being taught will retain stuff longer.

    Is it more important to teach to the students who will naturally apply what is taught in which case we can teach more basic facts or is it more important to teach to the student who do not as easily see how to apply what they learn.

    If we teach to this latter class of students then it is much more important to teach how this information is relevant and relates to other things they leaned if we hope that they will retain and use what they learned in school.

    Another question is the general direction a student takes. If a student goes into graduate studies or even teaching then they will re-use, reinforce and have a greater opportunity to reflect on what they learn. However, outside academia a much greater percentage of what is learned will be lost.

    There is a somewhat alternative approach which is used in philosophy departments where students are required to read large amount on the topic being studied. This is based on the theory that because only a small portion of what is read is retained; that if one reads a lot then one will retain a lot. This approach lets students distill from the volume of text what they believe is important and ideas which re-appear though multiple texts are more likely to be retained as they will likely have a higher degree of relevance.

    However, the approach in philosophy in education is much different then other departments because a much greater focus is placed in the comprehension of what is learned then the quantity of information which one can regurgitate on a test.

    I do not have a strong opinion on weather it is more important to focus on the quantity of information or the meaning of what is learned but I do think that education should be planed so what is taught is widely applicable. For instance if one is learning history, how is that history relevant to science, economics, philosophy, theology, psychology, literature. etc...
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  2. jcsd
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