I found this post interesting. It argues that in an age of Wikipedia and Google memorization is unimportant.
According to Tapscott, the existence of Google, Wikipedia, and other online libraries means that rote memorization is no longer a necessary part of education. “Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge; the internet is,” Tapscott told the Times. “Kids should learn about history to understand the world and why things are the way they are. But they don’t need to know all the dates. It is enough that they know about the Battle of Hastings, without having to memorize that it was in 1066. They can look that up and position it in history with a click on Google,” he said.
Even if we make an exception for language learning (vocabulary in particular), I think this perspective needs to be nuanced.
Also from the article:
Today’s students are growing up in a world where multi-tasking has
them completely immersed in digital experiences. They text and surf the
net while listening to music and updating their Facebook page. This “continuous partial attention” and its impacts on our brains is a much-discussed topic these days in educational circles. Are we driving distracted or have our brains adapted to the incoming stimuli?
A new book on the subject, “iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind,” states that our exposure to the net is impacting the way our brains form neural pathways. Wiring up our brains like this makes us adept at filtering information, making snap decisions, and fielding the incoming digital debris, but sustained concentration, reading body language, and making offline friends are skills that are fading away.