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Rote memorization won't help children be successful in life, scientists say

Rote memorization of historical dates or multiplication tables won’t help children be successful in the long run.

Instead, teachers and parent should focus on teaching the “six C’s” – communication, critical thinking, content, creative innovation, collaboration and confidence.

At least, so say Drs. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff in their new book, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children.

Golinkoff, a psychologist and linguist, and Hirsh-Pasek, also a psychologist who specializes in early childhood education, wrote their book to offer parents a number of strategies and solutions to offer teachable moments that will lead their children to successful adulthood. The pair are worried that educational strategies that focus on rote memorization for standardized tests are failing to truly teach children how to be lifelong learners and thinkers.

In an interview with NPR last year, Hirsh-Pasek compared the problem to climate change.

“What we do with little kids today will matter in 20 years,” she told the nonprofit news organization. “If you don’t get it right, you will have an unlivable environment. That’s the crisis I see.”

Education in the U.S. focuses heavily on “content” to the exclusion of the other C’s, the book claims. It cites a number of recent studies and new research to back up its proposed educational strategies.

“We’re training kids to do what computers do, which is spit back facts. And computers are always going to be better than human beings at that,” Hirsh-Pasek said.

She and Golinkoff put the “six C’s” in context, showing how they all work together. Students who fail to learn the C’s may struggle through life regardless of how well they score on tests, the scientists said.

The strategies they lay out in the book don’t require any special classes or equipment, Golinkoff said. They just require challenging children to work with others and look at problems from a variety of perspectives.

“At school, when kids are being encouraged to get the one right answer and fill in that bubble, people can do things that enable their children to solve problems in multiple ways: ‘Can you think of different ways to make the bed?’” she explained.

By Kyla staff writer

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