The “learning by teaching” model has gained respect in academic settings while education has been making a paradigm shift to “self-directed learning.” Self-learning proposes that students tailor what and how they learn according to their unique eccentricities and aspirations. One of the ways this is achieved, is through teaching.
By teaching, we learn!
Succinct proof of the viability of the learning by teaching model is the change in knowledge requirements for attaining higher degrees relative to those needed for elementary degrees. For example, while elementary school required one to pass written tests, do practical assignments, do a few presentations, and attend classes; a core part of college education is in choosing and preparing one or a number of dissertation topics, and conveying the body of knowledge learned to an impartial audience.
When you teach, you are forced to fully understand the concept you want to pass along, and have it ‘at the tip of your fingers.’ Then, if there is a hurdle in understanding the concept on the part of the person being taught, you can use colloquial language and analogies to help them understand.
Attaining this level of knowledge requires you to study the concept thoroughly using a variety of academic or non-academic resources, and integrating your own experience.
Teaching is not only beneficial because of the level of understanding it requires you to have on the subject matter, but because it requires you to think critically. While teaching, you often find yourself making correlations that you would not have thought of if you weren’t teaching the concept to another person.
These correlations resulting from critical thinking allow you to commit concepts to your long-term memory, in a process similar to how mnemonics improve your recall ability. Teaching helps you understand and remember information.
How to Learn by Teaching
Now that we’ve covered why teaching is a great way to learn, we can discuss how you go about using this to your advantage.
The next time you need to learn something thoroughly, and quickly, try this—approach your study session as if you’ll be standing in front of a class the next day to explain what you have learnt. By visualizing what it would be like to stand in front of your “pupils,” you will force yourself to make sure you understand the information you absorb.
Think about how you would explain the concepts. Imagine what kinds of questions you might be asked. Picture how you would feel if you couldn’t answer a question or froze up during an explanation. These little tricks will make it seem much more important to learn the content, than it actually is.
Teachers use things like images, flowcharts, presentations, and tests to teach. Preparing these types of materials are also a great way to learn new things.
Two advantages of learning by teaching
Learning by teaching helps you understanding a concept, organize your thoughts, and commit them to memory. It also develops vital presentation skills that help you assimilate information and deliver it to any group of people in your academic or future career.
This article is an excerpt from “How to Be a Great Student: Success Strategies for Life in College or University”