A few weeks ago the new book by Hattie and Yates ‘Visible learning and the science of how we learn‘ was published. This is an interesting quote on rote learning versus deeper understanding:
“There was a period in which teachers were encouraged to believe that rote learning stood in antagonism to deeper understanding. This notion is misleading since all indices of knowledge display positive associations. There is no meaningful cleft between ‘mere surface knowledge’ and ‘deep understanding’. On the other hand, the notion of automaticity implies that when basic skills are automated, mental space becomes available for deeper levels of thinking and understanding through acquiring knowledge. Knowledge literally provides the mind with room to move, to develop, and to change. Repetition and consolidation are vehicles enabling knowledge to be stored within retrievable units, thereby accelerating mental growth through conceptual mastery and deeper understanding” (p. 58)
More about the book, check this.