Today I was reading the We're only human blog put out by Psychological Science Magazine. They had an article about researching why we need memory and what makes us or helps us remember things. In order to test for this aspect of the human psyche they based their experiment on this premise: The only value of remembering the past is in illuminating the present or predicting the future.
I particularly found it interesting that long term memory (though they didn't call it that in this study) is tied into survival. When they tested survival memory against all the mnemonic techniques for remembering that survival prevailed.
Now if we could just get our students in school to realize that what they are learning is just as much about physical, political, and economic survival as say being able to throw a football, shoot a basketball or hit a baseball we might have more avid learners.