You’re at home preparing for a really important presentation for work. You think you’re good to go when your dad walks into the room and asks you what it’s about. You start telling him about, but it has now turned into a full-fledged rehearsal for D-day. A couple of minutes into the presentation, he starts asking questions; some basic ones as he has no idea about your new product. You find yourself faltering and stumbling over the simplest concepts. That’s when it hits you that maybe you aren’t fully ready for your presentation. Whilst focussing on your knowledge of the statistical data and superficial details, you forgot to properly cover the most fundamental aspects.
Here’s a different scenario. If you were one of those students in your class who would ace every exam or rather, if you were better at a subject than your friends, you know exactly what this is about. It’s finals week and your phone has been buzzing endlessly with friends asking you to explain quadratic equations, tell them what led to the French revolution or why evolution might not always be progressive. You tell them you haven’t revised too much either but reluctantly, start to teach them. The next day, you re-read the same topics for your own benefit and realise that a lot of it has already been ingrained on your memory. Consequently, it takes almost half the time you thought it would and it dawns on you that maybe teaching your friend wasn’t a bad decision after all.
Let’s get to the point.
That’s the power of teaching. Every time you set out to impart your knowledge, both scenarios exist concurrently, making you aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes when we learn in isolation, we fool ourselves into believing that we’ve grasped the concept by just practising a couple of problems, compositions or dance moves. However, this self-deception wears off when teaching someone else. It is almost as if everything you know is out on display for the world to scrutinize.
“By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn.” – Latin Proverb
This also forms the basis of the Protégé Effect. Studies have shown that students who are usually enlisted as tutors or those who study with the intention of teaching later, make more efforts to understand, remember and apply the study material. They have been known to outperform students who learn for themselves.
Moreover, teaching also improves communication and interpersonal skills, resulting in you learning how to present the matter in an intelligible and interesting format. It enhances the overall information processing capacity, increasing metacognitive capabilities. The best part is that these benefits are not just confined to academic study, but can be applied to a wide variety of activities.
So, if you want to hone your skills when it comes to playing a string instrument, you know how to go about it. All you have to do is teach – for the benefit of all those aspiring to play, for a more skilful set of young musicians, for helping students in need of a motivated teacher and most of all, for yourself.
“When you get, give. When you learn, teach.” – Maya Angelou