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Rockbridge Academy Blog


Why Memorize?

February 23, 2018
By Denise Hollidge, Grammar School Principal

“Memory is the scribe of the soul,” says Aristotle, and though this scribe called ‘memory’ stores up the bits and pieces of what makes up our lives, memorization has fallen on hard times. Memorization is the activity of the mind to learn something so well that it can be written or recited without thinking. While memorizing Latin verb conjugations or a poem may not seem like an important or valuable achievement, it is training your child’s brain to remember better and creating a reservoir of beauty upon which to reflect. Information that is memorized, rather than crammed for a data dump on the next day’s test, is retrievable and useful for the future.

Recently, a mom reached out to me with these questions: “Why memorize? Why memorize the Bible? And why memorize math facts?” That question took me right back to my son’s first grade poetry recitation. I stood in the back of the room wincing with pain every time he made a mistake. Inside, my heart was breaking for him, and I, too, asked, “Why does he have to memorize this poem? This is really hard!” But today, this same boy--a man in his junior year at college--is getting the benefits of those mental workouts from his days as a Rockbridge grammar student. Just knowing his math facts, history dates, English parts of speech, or patterns for writing a logical argument leave lots of room in his brain to learn new things. If foundational information is memorized, your child can retrieve it easily and move on to more challenging and complex ideas rather than looking everything up.

Even more important is the memorization of scripture. At Rockbridge, kindergarteners memorize a verse each week and the 6th graders memorize an entire letter of the New Testament over the course of the school year! Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Victorian England's best-known Baptist minister, reminds us that, “The Bible in the memory is better than the Bible in the book case.” The reasons for this are given to us all over scripture, but to consider one, the Psalmist in chapter 119:11 tells us that the young man can keep his life pure by “storing up [God’s] word in [his] heart, that [he] might not sin against [God].” That alone is sufficient reason to memorize the scriptures. I am sixty-one, and I memorized that scripture when I was 15. It has blessed me over and over again, along with many others.

There are many reasons to memorize, and your children know the value of it. I asked a few kindergarteners why we memorize in school and here are a few of their answers. Claire Gannett: “We memorize important stuff like a penny is worth one cent, a nickel is worth five cents…” etc. Tomi Adgebite: “Memorizing means to remember something.” MJ Bailey: “That’s how we learn stuff from the Bible.” The Apostle James reminds us that, “the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

Aristotle may not be able to testify to what a blessing it is to have the truly important inscribed on the soul of your child, but the simple Christian knows.

Posted in Grammar