What is Worth Memorizing

What is Worth Memorizing?

Rea McCain, 1920

Any selection to be worth memorizing must be the adequate expression of some emotion already experienced by the child. It must be the adequate expression, for, if the idea alone be beautiful, why not remember the idea and let the wording go?

It must be the expression of emotion, for facts are concerned with thought and not with their expression. Emotion does not imply sentimentality. The preamble to our Constitution is as truly the expression of emotion as Highland Mary. The feeling in the two is very different, but, each in its way, is an emotion.

The third requirement is more apt to be disputed than either of the others. There are those who say the child will grow into comprehension of what he learns. That he will have come to have a fuller appreciation of anything worth learning is true, but this does not prove the time spent on what is beyond his present understanding is not wasted. Most of us admit that we have forgotten nine-tenths of all we were compelled to learn. Doubtless we have retained many an impression from lines we can no longer quote, but this is not an argument for learning selections beyond our understanding. Quite the contrary. If we lose the words and retain only the impression, or a part of the impression, made at that time, it is essential that the feeling of the selection be one which is rightly understood.

Continued here

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