Eleanor Dickey on the Importance of Memorization

I’m so excited about this new Greek composition book. The entire preface is full of quotable material, but this paragraph I found especially noteworthy (p. iv):

To derive maximum benefit from the exercises the relevant vocabulary and gramatical forms should be memorized before each chapter is undertaken, so that the sentences can be done without the consultation of reference works. Students starting to learn prose composition are often mislead into believing that no memorization is necessary, but such deception is ultimately in no-one’s interest: the rules of Greek grammar and syntax are so complex that it is impossible even to know what to look up unless one has done a fair amount of memorization, and looking up all the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax required for even a single sentence takes so long that discouragement is inevitable and very few sentences can be done. The author, as a student, wasted years over the non-memorization method and later wished bitterly that someone had told her how much more efficient it would be just to sit down and learn things by heart; it would have been the single most useful tip anyone could have given her, so she hereby passes it on.


3 responses to “Eleanor Dickey on the Importance of Memorization”

  1. Wow. That’s pretty compelling. I’ve been just reading, reading, reading in an attempt to up my game. But if I want to follow her advice, where should I go? To my original Greek textbook? (Muncie’s BBG) To something new and fresh? (Have been itching to get into Decker’s)

  2. Well, my answer to where to go beyond lots of reading is composition. That’s why Carson’s accent book is going to be followed with her composition book. She overviews and explains the whys and hows of the rules as you progress through the book.