Rote Learning

Rote learning is a learning technique which avoids understanding the inner complexities and inferences of the subject that is being learned and instead focuses on memorizing the material so that it can be recalled by the learner exactly the way it was read or heard. In other words, it is learning "just for the test".

The major practice involved in rote learning techniques is learning by repetition, based on the idea that one will be able to recall the meaning of the material the more they repeat it. However, in many fields, especially mathematics and related disciplines, this can often produce poor results.

Rote learning is sometimes disparaged with the derogative terms parrot fashion, regurgitation or mugging because one who engages in rote learning may give the wrong impression of having understood what they have written or said. However, with some material rote learning is the only way to learn it in a timely manner. For example, when learning the Latin alphabet, the vocabulary of a foreign language or the conjugation of foreign irregular verbs, since they have no inner structure or their inner complexity is too subtle to be learned explicitly in a short time. (Native speakers and speakers with a lot of experience usually get an intuitive grasp of those subtle rules and are able to conjugate even irregular verbs that they have never heard before.) Rote learning can be risky because institutions, systems and people have a tendency to fixate on its benefits. The system is widely practiced in schools across India, Pakistan, China, Singapore, Japan, Romania and Greece. In the United Nations Arab human development report for 2004 the (Arabic) researchers claim that rote learning is a major contributing factor to the lack of progress in science and research & development in the Arab countries.

The Hasidic religious schools called a Chaider use this approach when learning the Bible. It is used in various degrees, and more so at a younger age, which the sole purpose of learning then is to prep him for the future. The children must learn two languages, Hebrew and Aramaic, and learn techniques and the rationale used in those teachings.

This term can also refer to learning music by ear, a practice used with those who cannot (yet) read musical notation. However, many music teachers make a clear distinction between the two approaches. Specialized forms of rote learning have also been used in Vedic chanting to preserve the intonation and lexical accuracy of texts by oral tradition.

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