Do you know who is the best teacher? The one who is master at his craft or the one who is a beginner.
The answer might surprise you.
Sometimes when someone is too good or too experienced, they turn out to be the worst teachers. They can’t teach because they’ve lost touch with the learning challenges at the beginner level. Anything that you become good, you tend to forget that you have mastered and internalized a number of things.
Take the internet for instance. Most of us have mastered a number of things and don’t even remember how we struggled when we just started. Now try teaching internet surfing and email writing to a senior citizen who has never used the internet before and watches your frustration with their lack of knowledge.
Now let an eight-year-old teach the same old person. Watch their patience and technique.
Their own learning is fresh in their mind. They can use different techniques, one they used themselves to learn, to teach their pupil (an old person in this case).
The problems faced by someone just starting out are very different to the problems of someone who is already making progress. The people on the mediocre-to-good spectrum are much different from people who are just starting. Who you decide to learn from and who you look up to should vary as you make your way through your learning journey.
C.S. Lewis wrote a great introduction to his Reflections on the Psalms
It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than a teacher can… the Fellow-Pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one he has only recently met. The expert met it so long ago he has forgotten… I write as one amateur to another, talking about difficulties I have met, or lights I have gained…First cited at To be a teacher and remain a student
Often, rather than turning to a master or a guru or already made the slog through to the other side, the better person to learn from is the person who is next to you in the trenches.
The world is changing at such an amazing rate that we can’t be satisfied with knowing what we know now. If you become complacent, the world will leave you behind. You need to have the humility to become a student again.
But if you want to fast track your learning, start teaching what you want to learn.
In 1980, Jean-Pol Martin developed a teaching and learning approach in German school which led to a psychological phenomenon that was appropriately named protégé effect.
He got second-year students of German at the University of Nottingham plan, design and deliver a teaching session for first-year beginners’ students.
The result was:
The result was:
– The second-year students reported increased metacognitive processing, which made them more actively aware of their own learning process.
– Expecting to teach and teaching can led toincreased use of effective learning strategies, such as organizing the material and seeking out key pieces of information.
– It led to increased motivation to learn, since they make a greater effort to learn for those that they will teach than they do for themselves.
– They felt increased feelings of competence and autonomy, by viewing themselves as playing the role of a teacher, rather than that of the student.Source: The Protégé Effect: How You Can Learn by Teaching Others
We learn a skill better as a result of several psychological mechanisms, all of which revolve around the differences between how we learn information when we’re learning for ourselves, compared to how we learn it when we expect to teach others, as well as when we teach them in practice.
Teaching not only improves our own learning of the skill but also improves our soft skills such as – communication, confidence level, and leadership ability.
When preparing to teach not only our quality of learning improves but our retention also increases. The same is true of the increased feelings of competence and autonomy that we experience as a result of playing the role of the teacher.
Another study attributed the benefits of the learning-by-teaching strategy to retrieval practice.
Most of us already have some knowledge in our area of interest, why not start teaching those to someone else and in the process improve our own learning.
This is what I am doing through this site. Learning and improving my writing skills by teaching others.
Whether you have skills or don’t have any skills in your area of interest, your teaching ability is about 60 hours away.
I will write about that next week.