Although we want a child to learn through curiosity, by being inquisitive and participative in class, rote learning is part of the process of acquiring knowledge ("Rote learning can kill kids' curiosity" by Mr Lee Teck Chuan; Monday).
There are different approaches to teaching children and these will depend on the different levels they are at. If we give up rote learning completely, we will end up with young children not achieving tangible progress.
As an example, we first learn how to count in sequence through rote learning, despite not knowing the figures in written form.
Children in pre-school learn faster and more effectively through rote learning.
They start learning the alphabet, for instance, through rhymes that are easily remembered.
They learn words, phrases and sentences by emulating what their teachers say or read to them, again through rote learning.
Children start asking questions only when they are equipped with a vocabulary that will allow them to express themselves clearly and with confidence. In order to stimulate their curiosity, children should be motivated to express their thoughts, perhaps through discussions on various topics.
Developing the minds of our children is a process, not a competition.
Syed Alwi Altahir