Why Formula Memorization is Crap!

There are not many things that get me worked up in that frustrated want to scream and pound the table kind of way. Having to memorize formulas for tests is one of them. Why? BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE FORMULAS MEMORIZED IN REAL LIFE!!! Yes, that is all caps. Yes, I am screaming. In real life, you have books, and cheat sheets, and people to ask and um… THE INTERNET! HELLO. If someone can provide me a real example of where having a formula memorized has really saved the day, I would like to hear it. Because I cannot think of a time where I could not find the formula I needed to solve something. And I don’t mean one of those examples where you are on a deserted island all alone with no books or computers, because really, what kind of life threatening math problem could you have then.

This doesn’t just apply to math for me. The turning point in my life where it became exceeding clear that memorizing formulas is crap was while studying for my Chartered Financial Analyst exam. There are a lot of formulas to know when analyzing financial statements, stocks, bonds, derivatives, etc. A LOT. There are also a lot of theories and concepts you have to know. I really think that memorizing formulas in that setting is detrimental to actual learning. I spent too much time making sure I had the formulas exact and not enough time on the fundamental principles. And if there is ever a time while analyzing investments that you don’t have a handy book or the internet, you probably should not be analyzing investments right then. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me thinking that.

If I ever teach a class, which I somehow feel I am destined to do, I will not make students memorize formulas. Mark my words, take this as my solemn promise. NO FORMULA MEMORIZATION IN PROFESSOR CASPER’S CLASS. That’s all for today. Class dismissed.

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