It has been said by many – from headteachers to union reps to Today presenters – that the internet reduces the importance of knowing facts. However, research from cognitive science shows the vital importance of remembering facts. When we think, we use working memory and long-term memory. Long-term memory is vast, but working memory is limited to about four to seven items and is easily overloaded. By committing facts to long-term memory, we free up precious space in our working memory to manipulate those facts and combine them with new ones.
Where do ideas and concepts fit into this? I could memorize the Declaration of Independence, but if I don’t understand it, I might as well not memorize it.