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    I happen to work at an education startup, so I went around and asked a bunch of former elementary school teachers what they thought of rote learning. The general consensus was it kinda works, but it’s vastly inferior to more active teaching strategies. I’ll trust the actual professionals here.

    Also, Shaw’s books consider “repetitive copying” to mean “typing the exact text he tells you to type into your editor.” That’s not a programming drill, that’s a typing drill.

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      I think you’re expressing an either-or fallacy. It obviously can’t be either extreme, but he’s advocating for more repetition in the mix between repetition and concepts.

      To refute the point you would have to argue that there is too much rote learning right now in programming education. That seems false to me but I haven’t been in school for awhile.

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        Maybe. I’ve found I pay a great deal more attention and notice small details when I retype something versus simply copying it. It’s pretty useful as an active reading exercise.

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          Slight tangent, but this is something I’ve noticed in the change from blackboard/whiteboard to PowerPoint lecturing, both as a student and as a lecturer. The old model was that both parties copied things: the prof had notes, which they copied things from up onto the board during the lecture; the students then took their own notes from the lecture and board. Now the prof pre-prepares PowerPoint slides, which are shown during class, and posted on the course website after class. Nobody does any copying.

          More efficient, but I’m not sure better. And not only regarding the student not having to copy, which is where most of the argument over rote learning takes place. I think the prof not having to copy is not necessarily a good change either. Consulting your notes and writing things up onto the blackboard helps the lecturer notice things about what they’re transcribing, since you’re doing it pretty serially, not flashing up an entire pre-composed slide at a time, which you can breeze through glossing over details. It also helps regulate pacing: having to write equations imposes a physical limit on how fast you can blast equations at your students, even for famously fast-writing physics profs.

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          I’m pretty sure repetition is extremely well supported.