Learn by Teaching

Learn by Teaching is one of the most effective learning techniques.

“While we teach, we learn,”- Seneca

The principle of learn by teaching can be summarized in following sentence: You only truly understand something, if you can teach it to it to somebody else.

Teaching forces you:

  • To transform the subject in a more understandable form.

  • To look at the subject from different directions, trough the transformation but also trough the eyes of the student who gives you feedback.

  • To split the (complex) subject into smaller more understandable pieces, so called chunks. This process gives you a deeper understanding, especially of the interaction between the chunks.

  • To close knowledge gaps and parts you ignored, because the students will point/ask questions about this parts and gaps.

The form of your teaching is not important. You can tutor a single person or even a hole class. You can explain a work colleague a new issue. Or you can write a blog, like I do. Important is to prepare yourself, to split the subject into small chunks and to transform it into a understandable form, for the students. Encourage the students to ask questions and answer them ALL. That’s particularly important, because it brings you to the edges of your knowledge.

For the best results, teach somebody who believes, that he can learn and understand the subject. Somebody who is motivated and does not know much about the subject.

My personal experience with the technique is very positive. During school and my studies I often gave math tutoring. My grades improved about one or two points. And I understood what was happening, because I needed to verbalize it for my peers.

While I write B20 articles I always find many of my knowledge gaps and how a subject is structured. That I don’t understand a subject as deep as I think I do, or even worse, that I don’t understand it at all. Only then I have written the article and transformed it into a new form, I get a sense of confidence and I can explain the subject to somebody else.

Learn by Teaching has some nice side effects. You feel good, because you help somebody else. You give something of value, which is always a good thing and should be part of your mindset. You share many “aha” moments with your pupil.

Call on Action:

  • Find I way to teach somebody a topic you want to learn yourself. Start with baby-steps.

  • Summarize your subjects in a way that you could easily teach somebody else with it.

Your man,

– Gaius Wolf