To me, it seems quite obvious that memory helps.
I don't think that you can master a language only by learning things by heart, but I can't see how you could conjugate an irregular verb without memorizing its different forms. (I catched the flu, she falled on the floor, I've finded the solution ...)
Well, I am ESL. I got better marks in tests when I started memorizing stuffs. I am in Grade 11. Also we learn more words with memorizing. So we can make sense of it. Even we can write well with difficult vocabularies. As I am ESL student, for me without memorizing will be not make me smarter in studies. It's important for me to get good marks at this stage. So memorize helps to get more marks. But it requires bunch of time. Offcourse we understand something in memorizing. I am not talking about English and Math. I am talking about these kind of subjects like Science, Geography, History, World Religions, where we have to understand each and everything. It's not like a story where we just need ideas.
Firstly, learning styles will differ; people learn in different ways. If memorization works for you, you should use it. It's your future, not ours, so why care about what we or anyone else thinks? Memorize to your heart's content. As long as it works for you, it's all good.
Secondly, the more efficient a system, the more effective it will be. Memorization works well, but if it doesn't lead to an understanding of the function (the hows and whys) and distribution (the wheres and whens) of things in the world, be they numbers, words, dates, and so on, then it's not really all that 'effective'.
I teach English in Japan, and most, if not all JHS and SHS students are taught to memorize the answers to up and coming tests. Sure they do well on science and math tests, but few can actually apply the knowledge they've received stellar grades for. And that's a problem. Re-education is the norm in Japan. You memorize to get the grades to get into the best universities, and then you graduate with an engineering degree and are placed in the factory, bottom level position, to learn how to apply the knowledge memorized in all those years of schooling. Memorization is a quick fix. It gets you what you need for the time being. But it costs, and you will most probably have to pay the price later on - especially if you apply for a job in a country that expects you to know how to apply the knowledge your degree says you have. There's no re-education by the company. You either can do it (you get to stay on) or you can't (you get fired). "re-education" means, go back to school. Sad, I know, but that's how it works.