Learn by Teaching Others
by Ron Kurtus (revised 7 July 2012)
A good way to help in learning a subject matter—and thus getting better grades—is to teach the material to others. This forces you to review the material and also reinforces it in your memory.
One way to informally teach others is to simply explain the material to your friends or other students who are having trouble with the lessons. Statistics show that you learn more by teaching others.
Questions you may have include:
- How can teaching others help me to learn?
- Who can I teach?
- Will I be sure of getting better grades?
This lesson will answer those questions.
How can teaching others help?
It is well know that when you explain or try to teach a subject to someone else, you learn it better yourself. A big problem with only learning things in class is that shortly afterwards much of the material is forgotten. Studies say that soon after you learn something in class 80% is forgotten.
You can recall better
Although you seem to forget what you've learned in classsuch that your mind goes blank about some things when you take a testthe information is still really hidden in your brain.
Emma helped Raul learn American History. She was able to explain about the U.S. Bill of Rights to him.
When a test was given in class, both of them received good grades.
You may not be able to dredge up the answers on a test, but it is surprising how you can recall these things when you try to explain them to another personeven years later.
You learn by verbalizing
When you explain or verbalize something, you are using a different part of your brain than when you heard the material, and this increases your ability to understand and remember the information.
You organize your thoughts
Another good thing about trying to explain a subject matter to another person is that any questions or misunderstandings you may have had come out when you have to explain the subject. Often you must work things out in your mind at that time to properly explain that material.
It makes you feel better
Another benefit of helping others learn is that it makes you feel better about yourself and the contribution you are making to making the world a better place.
Who can I teach?
Finding someone to teach or explain the subject to can be a challenge. Even finding someone to discuss the subject, so you can verbalize what you have learned, is often not easy.
Friends and classmates
One thing you can do is to try to explain study material to your friends. You can even take turns in teaching each other to reinforce your knowledge. Teaching each other on a regular basis can even be part of doing your homework together.
Jennie was having trouble understanding Chemistry. John offered to help her learn the subject. They would meet after school to go over the lessons.
But also, John was interested in Jennie and soon asked her out. They started going together.
I guess this was an added benefit for John.
Some schools have programs
Some schools have programs where students go to last year's class to help teach the younger kids.
Those kids will often listen to someone a year or two older better than to the teacher, so they learn better. And of course, the student doing the teaching refreshes his or her knowledge of the material.
Although this will not directly improve your grades in classes you are presently taking, knowing last year's material better will give you a better background for this year's work.
Guaranteed better grades?
Will you be guaranteed of getting better grades if you teach others? Unfortunately there are no guarantees in life, and you just do the best you can. But, you probably will do better.
Learn more from what you teach
Common statistics in education are that you retain 10% of what you hear, 20% of what you read, 50% of what you do, 75% of what you discuss and 90% of what you teach.
Probably will do better
After teaching others, you probably will know the subject more thoroughly and thus do better in class and on tests, resulting in higher grades.
Verbalizing your knowledge, explaining lessons to others and teaching what you have been studying are good ways to learn the material better yourself. Teaching last year's material gives you a better background for this year's work.
Getting a better understanding about your subjects should help you get better grades in those classes. Besides that, it can be fun to help others learn what you know.
Feel good about yourself
Resources and references
Questions and comments
If you have questions, comments, or opinions on this subject, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
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Learn by Teaching Others