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Pak Tea House » Education » The Ripple Effect of Rote-Learning

The Ripple Effect of Rote-Learning

by Muhammad Taseer Hussain

1186344_10151890251112389_836318746_nWhile I was doing some research work in a library the other day, I saw a young lady sitting besides my table, scribbling on her notebook. Out of curiosity, I asked if she, too, were collecting data for research? “I’m memorizing a topic for my examination”, she said. Knowing that her examinations were not due for another few months, I admired her dedication to studies and probed, “you got plenty of months to prepare for your exams, right?” She blatantly replied, “ratta laga rahi houn” (I’m memorizing it).

I was forced to ponder as to why she had found herself in this situation. And after a brief conversation with her, I got to know she was a student of MSc. Statistics and was memorizing a formula because her teacher had suggested it was too difficult to understand it through logic. I further asked if she knew practical implications of that formula. “No”, she responded, wearing a question mark on her face. “Then what’s the purpose of learning it?”, I questioned. “Not even my teacher knows it’s application”, she said with defeated looks.

I am a university teacher as well as a researcher. Indeed, it is not the first time I happened to come across such a student. I am gravely concerned for such students and the system that forces them for rote-learning. However, the aforementioned conversation had finally prompted me to share my views.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Rote (Ratta)” is defined as “Mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned“. It means rote-learning is more like a mechanical task and does not require much of reasoning or inference. It raises a question, is our youth really learning? Are we producing graduates who can get along with international professional standards? Indeed, we’re producing a generation of incompetent professionals, who pass on half-baked knowledge and values to others in the line.

What is the purpose of the education that has no implication on our professional life? Are we educating our youth or burdening their shoulders with piles of books? We know what happens to the students who pass out of universities in pursuit of respectable profession. Can this rote-learning culture guarantee students’ success in practical life? Or even the students who join education sector could manage to bring a change to this nuisance of propagating incompetent professionals? I can go on and on about the disastrous consequences our nation is facing thanks to this appalling trend.

We need to have qualified teacher who could pass on true knowledge. There is a dire need to make our curriculum more concentrated toward professional demands. Our students should be groomed in such a way that they could think out of the box. Those who step into professional life should be able to utilize maximum of their competencies. If we achieve these goals, I believe, we will change the destiny of this country.

The entire ripple effect of rote-learning eventually reaps immeasurable catastrophic results in all the major and minor industries in Pakistan. It can be avoided with one simple change – a better education system in Pakistan, one that requires students’ cognitive involvement instead of parrot-like learning. Speaking in a broader sense, Pakistan lags behind the developed countries of the world for one fundamental reason, quality education. West spares major chunks of its economy on education and research since they know it’s importance. And how West developed is not a secret. We live in the global village where competition matters. Thus, we need to follow the steps of those who excel in this fast-going world. We need to chose the right direction for ourselves. Though, in Pakistan, higher education is pretty expensive; nothing can stop us if we really want to change ourselves as well as the destiny of this nation. Pink Floyd rightly said, “do we really want to become ‘another brick in the wall?”

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112 Responses to "The Ripple Effect of Rote-Learning"

  1. heavy_petting United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Yes, Romain, thanks. Good to hear from you.

  2. Romain United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    HP Mian,

    Me thinks that was just a oversight, no?

  3. heavy_petting United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    Yes, Romain, that was just an oversight. :-)

  4. masadi Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    HP wrote about Chutu mian, “Chottu, how you succeed in degenerating every thread into the commentator’s person age etc, not focusing on the gist of the arguments, reflects clearly on your authentic Bihariness..”

    Exactly, the moron when caught with his pants down, cannot respond to a single argument so he turns it into a personal insult fest. Thugs like him and RHR are like the nali ka keeras, they feed on crap and that is all they know.

  5. masadi Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    MTH wrote, “I am a university teacher as well as a researcher. Indeed, it is not the first time I happened to come across such a student. I am gravely concerned for such students and the system that forces them for rote-learning..”

    First universities do not have teachers, they have professors, second, this rote learning for the natives was a colonial invention, where tabeydari na key critical thinking sikai jati hei- that is the basis for it, the same is true in how people are socialized, those with life experiences that signify positions where you are supposed to obey orders, teach their kids the benefits of obedience, those where you are in positions where you have to think to succeed, are taught those type of skills, there is a class divide in this and the source is whether class or race in terms of colonial/euro, the same, fitting people into the use of capitalism.

  6. masadi Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    aab jo mein ney upar likha hei, us ko totally ignore kar key, RHR and other swines will start talking about my person- wait and see…kyunkey yeh morons pee-ons of the West bohat zalil kisam key log hein

  7. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    In a developing country like ours (India as well_) students prefer to learn by rote to acquire degrees so that they can find a job. They do not learn in the real sense of the word, they just get ‘education by rote’ and William James was not wrong when he called such people as ” functionally illiterate”……
    Mugging is an easy way to pass exams as they are set in our part of the world. Kids too seem to have inclination toward mugging and consequently develop good memory for that purpose. This is called ‘adaptation’ in Darwins terms. Professors too are NOT learned eventhough they have higher degrees …..if they work at a university or college or school they acquire data bank in the brains and appear to know their subject ///that’s not so because it is repetition of the same topics over and over again which ostensibly makes them seem ‘educated’…..
    Learning by rote is a scourge on our young generation and even professors are not exempt from it. this is the reason articles written them by are simply theoretical and unappreciated by readers. On the other hand Letters to the Editor portray true picture of writer’s learning…based on practical observation and experience. Students who learn by rote never buy a book in their lives…same with prof who use libraries for plagiarism. Both students and prof are to be blamed to the decay of learning. If prof took pains and taught properly their would be an end to rote,
    In France poetry was taught to students and asked to memorize, then read in class. Questions were then put to them by teachers and the class….paraphrasing was asked,,reference to context was desired. That was real learning and if our teachers followed this systme alone they can greatly improve the learning conditions here in our part of the world\
    When it comes to science most of our engineers fail to apply their ‘knnowledge’ in practical life/ because they had learnt through rote …they know theory of two stroke and four stroke engine but have never seen such engines nor can comprehend machine element..
    If you find any so called successful student or teacher believe me you will find him on the job because he had learnt by watching others do things and not by the rote he had parroted/

    In India myraids of books on all subjects are published in bulk and written by professors and if you checked them you will find all of them products of plagiarism. There are however exceptions but what i have stated is general condition prevalent in our societies.

  8. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ masadi
    stop talking like an idiot…..colonial period is long over and what we now need is employment and employment is mainly granted to people with degrees…..and easiest way to get degrees is by rote.
    People in our part of the world need jobs,,,something to do to earn their livelihood while staying white collar…rote helps them in gaining their object.
    .Beta rote hee se degree le lay warna bara ho kar tu bhi Quli banay ga!!



  9. [...] αρθρογράφος Muhammad Taseer Hussain στο blog Pak Tea House ασκεί κριτική στην ποιότητα του [...]

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  11. great submit, very informative. I’m wondering why the other specialists of this sector don’t understand this.

    You must continue your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

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