A surgeon shows, through functional MRI imaging, that during improvisation the brain is working on many important levels, unlike when someone is using memorized material. Creativity is a neurological process that can be measured and this experiment measured brain activity while musicians were playing or rapping – comparing improvised jazz keyboard playing and hip hop rapping. The experimental question was: What happens in the brain during something that’s memorized and over-learned, and what happens in the brain during something that is spontaneously generated, or improvised, in a way that’s matched motorically and in terms of lower-level sensory motor features?
So if the brain is engaged on many levels during improv vs memorizing, then students should not be memorizing content. Why invest precious classroom time in a strategy that simply does not benefit the student? This speaks to the importance of learning through creativity, self-direction and discovery.