Culture of curiosity
There is no harm in asking questions. Indeed, it is the first step toward gaining knowledge. Children have a habit of asking questions and they demand a reply. They will keep questioning until they do not receive a satisfactory answer. Our education system is developed or managed in a way that does not promote curiosity. Just imagine a student of class eight who rote learns the definitions of physics, biology, and chemistry. Rote learning is to curiosity as water is to fire. Students are compelled to rote learn if their teachers are unable to explain the concepts. Furthermore, our examination system—especially the board system in matric and intermediate—requires and expects the students to write the definitions as they are. This needs to change at the earliest.
Our education system needs to promote wonder and amazement among students. The students studying in pre-primary and primary classes do not rote learn, however, they are introduced to this menace when they reach middle education. This is when they are expected to re-write the same definitions in their examinations as they learned in their classes. Rote learning may support the students to earn grades but it is at an expense.
Rote learning makes students lose interest in their students. They are compelled to memorise unclear concepts. They will not be required to rote learn if they understand the concept or theory. Rote learning is an easy way to get over the examinations. Students rote learn answers to the questions they are pretty sure will appear in the question paper. They eventually forget the content they memorised as they never comprehended its depths. It was just surface-level memorisation of words. Imagine a student who is eyeing a career as a chemical engineer. If the student rote learns chemical equations, there will be no room for any trial and testing and eventually, all possibilities for experimentation will be lost. Students will gain interest in studies and learning if they are made aware of how chemical reactions take place, what are the properties of the elements of the periodic table and how they react when combined.
Clear concepts lead to a curious mind that is willing to question. Unclear concepts compel the students to rote learn as they are unaware of them. Students also rote learn when they are afraid of either failing the examinations or not getting expected grades. They rote learn so they can write the exact definitions and theories as they were taught in the class. To reduce and eventually end rote learning the learning aspects of our education system must be streamlined. The examinations should not be about how much one can memorise, it should be about how much one comprehends. The grades have become the ultimate goal for students. Moreover, grades are also an insufficient method of feedback as we cannot judge a student’s cognitive and critical thinking skills by the grades they earned in examinations. Furthermore, the objective of education is to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students. Rote learning does not facilitate the development of such skills. We must promote a culture of curiosity if we wish to produce leaders.