It’s the best way to discover how your brain works.
We’ve talked before – quite a bit actually – about how teaching someone else the stuff you need to know for school is a great way to get it straight in your head. Having to pass on this info highlights your own gaps and if your student asks you questions, it can give you a fresh angle on the subject.
But there’s another reason why teaching other people is a good idea – it shows you how you learn. The order you teach them in, the information you think is most important, the amount of time you spend on each section… All of this reveals something about how you process learning.
It doesn’t even have to be schoolwork. Try teaching someone how to play Monopoly.
Where do you begin?
Do you go through what each of the pieces are and what they do? Deal out starting cash and roll dice, hoping they’ll get the gist as you go? Begin with lots of detail on how mortgages work? Whichever option you choose, take note. Later, when you’ve bankrupted them (or flipped the board in a tantrum), think about what it means for how you see things. Are there any connections to how you approach your classwork?
What do you leave out for now?
You’re probably not going to go through what every Community Chest card does before you start playing, but what else do you put to the side for later? What does it say about how you prioritise information and build on a foundation of what you already know? Also, once you are playing, look at how effective your teaching method was. What would you do differently next time?
Which parts do you repeat?
When we teach people new things, there are often bits we repeat or underline, to make sure they’ve got it in their heads. In terms of Monopoly, you might come back to how rent works or the benefits of owning multiple train stations. If it’s “I’m always the Scottie dog” you might have control issues. Tie it back to your school stuff, thinking about which bits you need to go over more than once – and how you’ll teach yourself.
What questions do they have?
This is really interesting because it can reveal the bits you didn’t see as important (or you forgot) and how the whole picture looks from outside your brain. If it’s “What’s this Income Tax space about?”, that’s one thing. If it’s “Okay but how do you win?” you might need to focus more on the overall point of what you’re teaching. Keep in mind that their questions will reflect their learning style as well as your teaching style, so if you explained a million times that you can’t buy hotels before houses, and they’re still stuffing those little red pieces up their nose… that’s probably not your fault.
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