Writing ‘Lines’

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  • Chad
    30 December, 2014 at 7:56
    • Total posts: 1

    Hello everyone. I would love if someone could help me with this question I have. I teach English in Bulgaria and I am constantly frustrated by students telling me that they spend hours writing and rewriting the same word twenty and thirty times, as a method of study. I open their books and find page after page of single words copied down over and over. The teachers in the high schools encourage this. They give the students 30 words and tell them that for homework they have to write each word 20 times.
    I am always telling my students that this is a waste of time but many of them tell me I am wrong and that it helps them to learn. So I test them on the words they have written. I say "use it in a sentence" and they can’t do it, or they do it, but with mistakes. So I tell them that writing words many times hasn’t helped them and that even after they write the words many times, they still have to use them before they actually ‘know’ the new words. I tell them to write new words in sentences and give the sentences to me and this way we will tease out the mistakes and properly learn. To date, not one student has taken me up on this and I still find pages upon pages of ‘lines’.
    The practice, I have to add, even goes as far as copying entire pages of text books for, (in my opinion), absolutely no reason. One student showed me her mathematics homework and for homework she had been given the ‘contents page’ of the book to copy into her notebook. I almost exploded in a fit of nonsensical lunacy.
    I want to be able to tell my students once and for all that this practice is archaic and non-beneficial. However, it is so ingrained in the education system here that few question its efficacy and, in fact, many students vehemently defend it, despite the fact that none of them has ever, to my mind, adequately justified their argument.
    The upshot of all this is that I am trying to research the effectiveness of this ‘technique’. I want to find studies which have been conducted on this practice. Life would be so much easier for me, and for the entire teaching profession, I suspect, if I could find out that this practice is actually beneficial, since preparing homework assignments would become such an easy job! My problem is that I cannot find any information. I can find some articles on dyslexia, which suggest that repetition is a good thing, but this is only for dyslexia, and does not take the same form that I have outlined here. I would love if someone could point me in the right direction, or at least tell me what they think. Does this practice exist only in Bulgaria? I hope I haven’t left anything out and sorry for the long-winded post! Thanks in advance.

    9 February, 2015 at 10:41
    • Total posts: 589

    Reply To: Writing ‘Lines’

    Have a look at this Wikipedia article on rote learning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rote_learning

    There are some references at the bottom that might point you in the direction of studies…

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