Memorize THIS!

Some parents new to Radical Unschooling are worried that their children will not know the state capitals or the multiplication or “times” tables. I try to reassure them that memorization isn’t really learning. The idea that anyone needs to memorize states/capitals/times tables is based on an outdated, caveman belief system about true learning. What your children need to know is how to find the answers to their questions. This is a leading-edge idea about how humans truly learn. Most young people today know how to Google what past generations were forced to memorize, because there wasn’t such technology available. Also, the need to memorize was for the purpose of passing a test or quiz. The intention for a child’s learning such things was to meet the needs of the adults in their lives through attempting to cram tools into a child that they may need later in life.

However well-intentioned, until there is a need for the tools be forced on a child, they won’t come to understand it easily or value it, as it is laced with the energy of control, disrespect, forced manipulation, punishment and most of all, fear. The fear of having certain freedoms and joys taken away, from not obeying and memorizing is real and it is damaging. How can a human truly appreciate a tool that has been forced on them, against their will, as potentially useful? Even if they will someday use this tool, it often damages their will to learn other tools that could help them in life. In short, forced learning stunts human potentiality, as the negative association with content being forced is often avoided for the rest of a person’s life.

Also, the personal and sacred mind of a child should not be owned by someone else, attempting to fill it with pointless, mind-numbing “information” that has no purpose or use to them in a real-life context. Instead, they should have the freedom and time to fill that space with what they want to know and learn. Freedom of mind is a basic human right rarely given to children, but one they deserve as much as we adults do. The idea that they should be filling their minds, like sand in a bottle, with all of the grains representing memorized information, is an outdated mindset. Instead, we smash that bottle and expand their capacity to learn and grow through respecting their autonomy and choice in what they want to do with their time. When this happens, their internal motivation and inner drive is endless and can’t be contained. It is only then that children can learn and grow in ways that many don’t understand is possible.

At this time in human history, where everything that we were forced to memorize (and most of which we forgot, later) is available to our children, in seconds, how could that same outdated way of “teaching” through forced memorization be benefiting children today?  It isn’t and it is robbing them of their lives through precious time wasted in their own pursuits of learning and nurturing their purpose and passions. There is nothing better than learning through living, with a child’s education perfectly individualized, based on Who They Are and what their life leads them to learn about. The days of wasting away the lives of children, through forced learning, forced memorization and busy-work, to keeps children out of society, will soon be over! Although most people today think that this way of living is radical or unrealistic, it is happening all over the world! Thousands of parents and children are living without forced learning or forced memorization being part of their lives, as it comes from an outdated belief system lacking in kindness and respect for children. I believe that the philosophy that I present will soon be accepted, admired and held as something to strive towards, on the spectrum of evolved parenting and educational philosophies.

~Peace & Love, Dayna


  1. Thank you for this article!

  2. Sandra Hook says

    Thank you for this— I adopted the idea of “teaching my child HOW to find the answers” about a year ago…. and the idea that another person understands my though process is awesome! Although we do some “book work” in the form of math, I haven’t forced the memorization of the times tables…. once he figured out how to use a calculator to find the answer to the problem, I allowed it! He found a way! Last week, out of the blue, my son taught me about Hawaii and the volcanoes and types of rocks, all from a video game he had found and spent weeks playing! Unschooling is such an awesome phenomenon!

  3. Erin Anderson says

    I love the idea of learning based on interests, but what happens if/when they go to a traditional college? I teach math at the college level and the first thing I do is take the students’ calculators away. Students are expected to know basic arithmetic and memorize or derive answers to problems (in trig, for example). Will they be prepared to succeed in that environment?

    • I imagine that if they want to go to college and take your course, the kid could memorize his time tables in preparation. It’s not about saying they never need to learn time tables. It’s saying let them choose to learn it when they need to learn it.

    • Kristi Gordon says

      And hopefully college will be changed soon too!! I personally believe it should; Why should I take calculus? basic math, budgeting, taxes, etc etc yes!! It has a purpose! But memorizing equations that have no reason- I will just never understand it! I hope as this becomes a bigger and better movement, that colleges will adjust as well and have classes adapt to the actual needs of the student, not just what’s required

  4. candice Brock says

    This is a breath of fresh air. When we as parents quit trying to “teach” our kids, they flourish and thrive. Although we are new to unschooling, I am finding we are unschoolers and didn’t know it lol we have always had trouble fitting in the typical HS co op and groups and I’m thrilled to ser so many people live life as radical unschoolers….its so natural
    I hope to meet more in our area😃

  5. candice Brock says

    From my understanding, those kids who choose to attend college, would themselves figure it out to get the work done. Most unschoolers ate self driven and directed…know what it takes up get the job done😃

  6. Eclecticmama says

    Multiplication I is simply a short cut, it’s grouping to count quickly. A person could sit and count or they can rely on quick facts that are committed to memory. There are some facts that are quite handy to have with quick recall. This is why I. A grocery store some clerks will blank stare when the register goes out and they have to do the math when making change. Memorizing the countries in the world or capital cities brings connections when watching the news. Basing an educational philosophy on “well you can Google it” is quite interesting to say the least. Charlotte Mason would say to spread the buffet of good things and allow them to choose. They will be nourished but they will care about what they are learning. I do agree trying to “fill the jar” instead of allowing children to explore can be harmful..At the same time, I caution anyone allowing children to sit for hours on end staring at a computer screen to call that a healthy, wholesome education.

    Expecting a young person to cram 8-10 years of cumulative mathematics in while taking a college algebra course is a tall task. Recognize they will also be learning the fundamentals of grammar, research and citations in other classes. This simply doesn’t jive. It’s also harder to learn forceign language, grammar basics, etc…the older you are as opposed to those younger developing years. But to each their own.

    • “Expecting a young person to cram 8-10 years of cumulative mathematics in while taking a college algebra course is a tall task.”

      Not at all, according to the adult Unschoolers that I know, who have done this! It was quite easy, in fact.

      “Recognize they will also be learning the fundamentals of grammar, research and citations in other classes.”

      Most Unschoolers heading into college already know these things, by choice.

      I am not sure if you misunderstand the article, or Unschooling philosophy, but this article is against forced learning, not learning altogether.

    • While I intend to use unschooling as the basic philosophy for my two children and support much of this post, I do agree with some of the points made here. Googling something is not a straight replacement for having it in your brain, which grows and changes with each new experience. All sorts of neural connections are made and could lead to links between the seemingly mundane and the broader world. A computer is not equivalent to the organic brain.

      With regard to learning rote matters, parents can facilitate useful things such as multiplication. My 4yo was amazed that I knew how many pieces of a divided food there were without counting the other day. We called it “magic!” and we’d let her in on how it works one day – she loved the idea. By making learning useful things fun we can still inspire and guide learning while still respecting their autonomy – especially if we link it to real world things they care about.

    • Kristi Gordon says

      “Having it in your brain”, as you say- and memorizing information comes with learning though! Not because a teacher says so and you need to get a good grade on it. I have no idea what the capitals of the states are even with all that stress of the memorization back in school… but if I hear about a topic that interests me on the news, I can look the information up (I think Google is being taken too literally… encyclopedia, the library books, the internet, any resource available!) and then because they learned on their own, when interested, about a topic that had an impact, that fact will be “memorized” and become a part of their brain and learning. The capital, the geography of the state or country, towns and countries surrounding it that also had an impact on the topic, etc..!

  7. Thank you so much for this post and what you do! My Son is now 18 and we have unschooled from Day 1! He can think for himself and has taught himself everything, including of how to read and when, how to ride a bike, how to take apart his computer and clean it or install a new Video card! His Passion is Computer /Video/Games, he enjoys also working with his hands.. I have had to totally get out of the way of the ” idea” of what I thought he ‘ should’ be learning. It has been an interesting Journey as many things showed up in opposition of my idea of homeschooling. Even at an early age, when I tried to :”teach” him anything, he would throw up his hands and rebel and low and behold, figure it out HIS way! He has been my Greatest Teacher and has shown me where my Belief system has been tied to that antiquated Construct we have called our Education system! I am happy he can think for himself and knows how to find the information! Not sure where he is headed on his Journey, but I will bet it will be Enterpreunial and Unique as he is!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.