Experience vs. Memory in Teaching and Learning


The concept of the experience being different than the memory of it is an interesting one (and probably explains more about me than need be). Certainly we color things that we remember, but I never really thought about this issue when teaching. In a face to face environment, a teacher delivers a lecture; the student receives the lecture, and if they’re lucky an activity is created to reinforce the concepts. Participation might occur, or might not. The concepts are restricted to what was said in a particular environment – so at least the teacher can restrict some external distractors which might color the memory. In this situation, the student who succeeds best is the one that remembers the closest to the experience.

In the last two decades, we’ve seen plenty of studies asking for more critical thinking in schools. Critical thinking requires less wrote memorization. To put it in terms of the Ted talk by Daniel Kahneman, does that mean that less memory and more experience? Or is critical thinking a process that some of us engage in to turn memory into experience? And when we don’t process information critically, what then?