How schools kill SuperMemo and incremental reading

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This text is part of: "I would never send my kids to school" by Piotr Wozniak (2017)

Schools kill SuperMemo

Schools have a deadly impact on adoption of SuperMemo.

The main destructive factors of schooling:

  • schools focus on short-term memory: the old rule for surviving at school is cram&dump. Due to the size of the material and the focus on testing, schools condition students to focus on cramming. Many SuperMemo dropouts claim they could not cope with the speed of cramming and tests. There is no point in developing long-term memories if there are new tests coming, and if all knowledge is dispensable after tests
  • schools focus on a curriculum: exploratory learning based on the learn drive is suppressed at school. It is often virtually exterminated due to a constant drain on the student's time and mental energy. Schools provide little room for the pleasure of learning. Contrast this with incremental reading, in which the student explores the branches of knowledge in proportion to interests and priority

SuperMemo exposes futility of schooling

Users of SuperMemo who try to combine schooling with incremental reading often resort to the following procedure:

  1. use incremental reading intensely before exams
  2. cram all the material in the last 2-3 days
  3. deprioritize the entire exam material

In extreme cases, users report deleting the exam branch, or even the entire exam collection. They just do not have time to continue working. This is not much different than saying all that effort was just a waste of time with one goal: to pass the test!. This is an electronic, conscious, and committed version of cram&dump. The only difference is that the destructive act at the end of the process is undertaken with full responsibility. It actively proves the understanding that schools demand learning that is futile.

Users of SuperMemo understand that only knowledge stored in the program is protected from forgetting. Unlike those who might be unaware of the power of forgetting, users who delete collections commit a "memory crime". Students are conditioned to treat knowledge as dispensable commodity.

The act of deleting a SuperMemo collection after an exam is the evidence of awareness that knowledge is dispensable and is only needed to get good grades

Frustrations help SuperMemo

Naturally, we cannot forget that schools also have a positive side effect. Many users come to SuperMemo as a result of frustration with schooling.


  • schooling encourages cramming
  • schools condition students to believe that knowledge is dispensable
  • schools condition students to believe that learning is unpleasant
  • focus on short-term memory, undermines the process of establishing long-term memories
  • SuperMemo exposes the futility of schooling (and lead me to writing this book)