A large study involving 3,000 students has shown that in about 10% of children their problems with academic achievement were actually due to a lack of working memory capacity. http://www.physorg.com/news123404466.html
While the article laments that teachers often fail to assess memory deficiencies as the source for academic failure, it does not mention that memory is a brain function that can be easily exercised or left to deteriorate further, if not challenged.
Chances are we see this high number of memory deficiency because these kids grow up in a vague in-the-moment state of consumption that does not challenge them to take ownership of knowledge and invest energy into memorizing.
When we memorize, our brain is forming pathways that allow for knowledge to be stored. The more we learn (and as part of that process, memorize), the more sophisticated and powerful our brains become, allowing consequential steps of learning, creativity and understanding to happen with ease.
As a species, we are new to the information age, with all its on-demand conveniences. It's really just been a decade or two that a large percentage of mankind is benefiting from the digital data-flow provided by computers and the Internet. Faced with such overwhelming accessibility of data, the first conclusion of many is that it is no longer necessary to memorize anything. Why burden your brain with information that you can look up with a few clicks?
This study, however, sheds some light on why memory-building and memorized content is no less important today than it has been before the digital age. Our brains need a solid framework to make sense of our world and accomplish higher order learning.
To be able to "connect the dots" successfully, you have to know where the dots are, they have to be on your mental map. Computers provide a great backdrop and resource, but they can't replace a diminished capacity to think due to lack of memory and memorized knowledge.