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How many millimeters are in one inch? How many kilos is one pound? How many kilometers are in one mile? Let me try to answer this from the top of my mind: 1 inch is 25.4 millimeters (this am sure), 1 mile is 1.85 kilometers and 1 pound is about 0.4 kilos. A quick canter around Google reveals that I got two out of three wrong. 1 inch is indeed 25.4 millimeters. 1 mile is 1.60 kilometers and 1 pound is 0.45 kilos which is quite close to what I have in mind but not accurate. I bother with these units of measurements because over the years they have had an effect on how I understand the world. When I was a child, I looked forward to Tuesday evening because the American wrestling show WWF (later known as WWE) was on Tv. The announcers introduced the wrestlers with flamboyant zeal often mentioning their names and weight, in pounds. I could never quite understand what “weighing 225 pounds” meant because I had never come across the imperial system of measurement and I thought pounds was money. So when one day my dad told me that one pound is about half a kilo, I immediately had a much better understanding of my favorite wrestlers. More importantly, I left it there, I never bothered to find out the exact measurement.

We hardly care to remember anything that is a Google search away

It’s much the same story with miles and kilometers, just working knowledge I acquired to help me understand distances mentioned in the movies I watch. So 100 miles in my world is 160km but 185km in the real world and a 25km deviation has never hurt anyone. You probably are in the same situation as I am and you probably don’t really care because you could always ‘Google it’. The internet, coupled with our quick access to it through our mobile phones and computers, has changed the way we learn drastically, especially what we commit to memory. We hardly care to remember anything that is a Google search away. Naturally, Googling has infiltrated every aspect of our lives including learning in schools. Had it not been for tests, the slightly bothersome process of recall could never be undertaken by most students.

When you recall something, you improve mind’s ability because new connections are formed in your brain every time you form a new memory

There’s a lot of debate surrounding the need for tests and committing learning to memory when all the information we ever need is readily available. Fair enough, but try imagining what a world without the powers of recall would look like. Imagine a doctor hovering above you on the operating table, scalpel in hand and not sure if the thing before him is a tendon, a vein or an artery? Imagine if a construction engineer cannot remember the correct ratio of cement to sand to gravel while building a bridge? Imagine if your car mechanic cannot quite recall the difference between engine oil and engine coolant?

recall is not outdated at all but the basis of a great mind and doing great things

I agree with Dr. Benjamin Bloom in his 1956 theory that remembering forms the basis for all other learning. It comes before understanding and applying, which come before the higher order skills of analyzing, evaluation and creation of new knowledge. When you recall something, you improve mind’s ability because new connections are formed in your brain every time you form a new memory. The more the brain connections, the better your understanding of things and ability to applying knowledge. Great coders like Mark Zuckerberg remember their code, great actors remember their lines and great singers remember their lyrics. So recall is not outdated at all but the basis of a great mind and doing great things.

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