Monday, December 28, 2009

Learning through Teaching

The other thing that appeals to me about the idea of the reverse internship is what the instructor – the younger person – could get out of it. Haven’t we all experienced how much you learn and grow when you are teaching others? Both asking someone to teach you from an area of their expertise and asking them to study up on and teach something they don’t already know have tremendous value.

Think about it:

Remember your fourth grade class, when everybody had to pick an animal to study, checking out encyclopedia articles, cutting out pictures, maybe building a model of a habitat? Or what about sixth grade, when everyone in your class did a report on one of the US states? Or the high school literature class where each student presented about a different author?

You can name the animal, the state, the author, and probably tell me quite a bit about them, can't you?

I bet you remember what you taught (however awkwardly) better than you remember things that were taught to you by a professional.

The stress and adrenaline of standing up in front of your peers and presenting what you’d learned may have helped seal in the experience; strong emotion has a way of doing that.

This suggests to me that if we all need to learn more, maybe we all need to teach more.

After 30 days, students remember:

10% of what they hear
15% of what they see
20% of what they hear and see
40% of what they discuss
80% of what they do
90% of what they teach to others

From a study by the University of Indiana, quoted in the Thom and Joanie Shultz book The Dirt on Learning, p. 155.

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