Hello welcome to another episode of the smart student podcast. Once again I’m your host Dr. Ehoneah Obed.
In today’s episode, I am going to talk to you about a particular learning philosophy that I have used for a very long time.
This learning philosophy is what I have called learning by teaching. So this is a philosophy that I have seen a number of excellent or smart students use to succeed.
Personally, I have used it all the way through my education. I can look back to my days in primary school when I was even using this not knowing how powerful it is.
Today I’m going to walk you through what it is and how you can use it in your own studies.
As you know this is the smart student podcast and on this show I train you to become a smart student.
So learning by teaching is one philosophy that every smart student needs to apply.
Back in senior high school or even at the university level, I realised that almost all the very good students were students who were found teaching others or they were students who other people always engaged to be taught by them.
If you can bear with me, almost every brilliant student in your class right now has some other people looking up to them to teach them.
So that is the philosophy of learning to teach. Before I talk more about it, let me share an experience where I realise the importance of this particular philosophy that I have been using.
When I was in senior high school, when we vacated I used to go back home. The thing is that I stayed in a different place from where I schooled.
I had to travel to where I schooled and that is more in ” a town” so I have to go back to the village where I’m coming from.
The unfortunate thing is that, on vacation I didn’t get anyone to take me through this source of vacation training.
You know in the cities in Ghana we have a lot of vacation training going on and people are ready to pay and go.
A lot of my colleagues in that same school were attending some of these vacation classes.
However, unfortunately for me I didn’t get to attend any of them. Even when you had the money and you needed someone to teach you no one was available to teach you.
We will come back to school and all these other colleagues of mine have gone to learn new things from their vacation classes and they are coming to show off and the likes.
So, in my mind I’m like how do I get to learn some of these things that they have gotten the opportunity to learn because they went for classes.
That is how all began. But, eventually I realised that even some of these people had gone for classes they still did not understand or appreciate some of the things that they’ve been taught in school.
So eventually they came back to me. God been so good I was one of the smart students in the class.
They will come back to me to help them understand some of the things that they have done during their vacation classes.
With time I picked up and what I started doing was that, when we come back to school I will
make sure to find out what they have learnt during their vacation classes then I start learning them.
Then anytime anybody came to me that they wanted me to help them understand certain things or they wanted me to teach them certain things.
What I will do is that I will pretend to know them.
So the only thing I could say is well yeah when you’re ready I’m going to take you through it.
But unfortunately now I’m engaged so let’s make it somewhere then I’ll give a particular date so that you can meet me for me to teach them.
The truth of the matter is that during the time that they were asking me I probably had no idea what that topic was about.
But I took it as an opportunity to go and learn it in order to come and teach them.
So anytime I get these people coming to me to request that I teach them, I take it upon myself to sit down and learn the topic then I come to teach them.
What I realised from the sort of experiences is that any time I come to teach them, they end up giving me more insight than I actually learnt when I did the learning by myself.
Because they have gone and they’ve been taught by experts and have been taught by people who really understand the concept of the topic in question.
And they have come to me to help them revise in a way.
So once I start talking about it based on my own understanding of the concept that I have learnt by myself then they start talking about the things that their teachers said.
And I start picking up things you know I like to ask questions when I’m learning so that’s also another philosophy that maybe in a subsequent episode I’ll delve more into.
Hence anytime I’m teaching people I already have questions in the back of my mind that I don’t have answers to, especially when I don’t fully understand the concept that I’m teaching them.
But out of this philosophy, I tell myself this thing. So pay attention to it and I need you to go with it everywhere you go in the course of your studies and this is why this philosophy of “learning by teaching” is important to me.
It goes this way “you know that you don’t really understand the thing. So when you can not teach someone who doesn’t know it to understand it.
Let me take it again,all that I’m saying is that, I come to realise that I don’t understand a particular concept after learning that concept.
When I go to teach someone even if the person has not learnt it before and the person can not understand what I’m teaching them then it means that I don’t understand it myself.
So it is that basic. Anytime I go to teach someone and the person understands what I am teaching them, it means that I understand it and so I was able to put it in a way for them to understand it.
So basically how do I test to know if I understand a concept? All I do is to teach someone who does not understand that concept.
After teaching them, I’ll get to know whether I really understand what I’m doing or not or what I learnt or not. So that is basically how I have used this learning by teaching philosophy and how it has helped me over the years.
And because of that it has turned me into a good teacher and it is even one of the reasons why I am hosting this podcast to share with you some of the knowledge and some of my experiences.
Because at the end of the day when I sit here to share some of these things with you I also get more in-depth knowledge into the things that I talk about with you.
So, if you don’t get anything from this particular episode keep this with you “the more you teach the better to become at what you teach”.
Another important reason why learning by teaching is good for you in your journey or your quest to become a smart student is that it forces you to learn more.
So even though back in senior high as I shared with you I was already learning on my own. I was learning my own stuff. I was learning the things that I was being taught in class.
But when these colleagues of mine came with different topics that are not learnt before I had to force myself to go and learn new things so this forces you to learn more things.
Even things beyond the scope that you have imagined going to cover. So that is why it is important for you to learn to teach others and also when you are teaching them ask questions and also allow them to ask you questions.
When they ask questions it drives into your understanding of the concepts.
I end up giving myself a number of assignments when I’m teaching people because when they ask me questions that I can’t answer it means I lack understanding with some of the things.
And therefore I have to go back to my drawing table and restructure again or what I mean in simple terms is go back and sit over it and learn it again. Learning by teaching others is also another tool that you can use to access your own understanding.
So as I have said already, when you sit down to teach somebody and you are able to communicate at their level. They appreciate what you are teaching them then you know very well that you really understand the things that you are teaching.
However sometimes when you start teaching and you find yourself fumbling,you realise that you don’t really understand certain parts of the things that you learnt already.
So in those scenarios you come back to your drawing table to restructure or you come back to learn the very things that you didn’t know. It is a good tool for you to access your progress in anything that you are learning.
How then do you go about to implement this particular philosophy?
So somebody is saying or you’re probably thinking that no one is coming to me to teach them. How do I make use of it and it’s only the excellent students who will get people coming to them.
If I’m not one of the excellent students in the class how will I get people to come to me?
Here too I will share a secret with you how I went about this particular philosophy back in the university. Even in our first year in university when nobody knew who I was, nobody knew whether I was a good student or not. We were all battling each other here and there.
I still was able to use this particular philosophy or apply this particular philosophy and it helped me alot and it set me apart from a number of my colleagues.
With time it became easy because now people were running to me to help them study or to help them learn some of the things.
How then do you go about it? Let me be frank with you. You don’t need to be the best student to get people discussing with you or to get people coming to you for you to teach them.
What I did personally was that, anytime I learnt anything new and I wanted to know whether I really understood what I have learnt I tried engaging people. So in class even in first year I kind of tried studying individuals in the class and knew their level of performance.
Let’s say I tried to assess each student and his or her performance. I know the very good students or I know people who look very good and kind of understand a lot of things.
So you know the level to place each person. So if I needed to try with anyone who doesn’t understand at all,I will just look at the people that I know who are not so good. I will just go to them and ask them. For instance when I come to you, I ask you about a particular topic.
Let’s say a topic we were taught in class last two days. So I ask you this thing that this lecturer taught, did you even understand it? Have you gotten time to go over it? I put a question like that if the answer is yes.
I will say oh wow, then “chaley” can you really help me appreciate that thing the lecturer taught.
So in that state I have given the person the opportunity to teach me. But at the back of my mind I am using that as an opportunity to lure the person in so that I can teach them what I know.
On the other hand if the person says no I have not gone through it then I say okay I have personally gone through it. So let me share a few of the things that I have learnt from it so that at least even before you get to go through it you will remember a lot of the things.
So either way whether the person has learnt it before or the person has not learnt it before. Is still an opportunity for me to teach them what I have learnt.
I start talking about it if the person’s answer was no they have not learnt it. Then I start talking about it and I encourage them to ask questions.
And that is what shows me whether I really understand what I am teaching or not. And if they have already learnt it I give them the opportunity to also teach me what they have learnt.
Because along the line I may end up learning a different perspective that’s their own perspective about what we are talking about.
It is a very important true that we all can use and appreciate. It is going to help you a lot and as I keep saying,you don’t need to be the most excellent student.
You can engage anybody at all. I have been doing this even to this level such that anytime that I study anything I want to test that I know what I have studied .I talk to people about it.
Even right now out of school the other extra-curricular things I do I like to ask people about it then I share my thoughts with them.
So let me make a prescription for you. Of course I’m a pharmacist so I’m allowed to say a prescription.
Let me give you a prescription from this particular philosophy.
Today keep in mind that you’re going to learn and teach what you learn.
So that is the starting point. From this day I’m going to learn and anything I learn I’m going to teach others who may be interested. That is your declaration.
The next thing is for you to look for the kind of people you are going to teach. It doesn’t always have to be people who are below your level in terms of the intelligence or level of performance in class.
They don’t always have to be below your level it could be people above your level because she want to learn from both sides.
Look for the people that you are going to engage. When I was in university, I knew colleagues who were at par with me or who were better than me, who I could go to. So at any point in time when I was having challenges with some of the things I was learning I will go to them and engage them.
This is the understanding I got from this topic that I learnt. What do you think or in your own perspective how do you appreciate or how do you understand the things that the lecturer taught.
So that I learn something new from them too and I end up teaching them the ones that they did not understand using the same philosophy. Okay so you have to also know the pain points of the people that you can go and teach. Then the next thing is “how will you go about it or how will you get them to teach them”.
In the first few years in the university, I happened not to use most of the break times. So when colleagues were gone for break, I would be looking for someone who was sitting alone. Probably then go and engage them on this particular thing. I will just walk to you and say hi and ask how you are doing. I used to check up on a lot of people.
So at a break time I will just go and look for anybody at all who is available and check up on them, how they are doing and everything. I engage them on the “learning by teaching” philosophy even though I don’t make it obvious that that is what I’m doing.
When I walk to them I just ask how you’re doing and I try to ask you if you have learned a particular thing that I want to teach you. I won’t tell you I want to teach you. But I ask you whether you understand this and if you do just explain it to me let me get your own perspective about it and I’ll also add my own.
But if you don’t then it’s an opportunity for me to teach you what I have learnt. So once you pick up who to target. Now you have to also look out when you can get access to this kind of people.
And the other thing that I did was also doing group studies. I have talked about the importance of being in a group or a study group in a previous episode of the smart student podcast.
So you can check that episode out but anytime before these group studies I knew that these are a number of people that I have the opportunity to teach. I will learn a lot and when I go I try my best even when I’m not the one moderating it, I still try my best to teach along the line all the things that I have learnt.
So “learning by teaching” is a very great philosophy when it comes to becoming a smart student and I recommend it to you. No matter your level of success in terms of academics there’s an opportunity for you.
Everything that you learn, try and go and teach what you learnt. Because the more you teach the better you become. It forces you to learn more and eventually it is also a tool for you to access your own understanding.
Thank you for listening to this particular episode. I hope you are enjoying the series of episodes so far for the smart student podcast and I hope to bring you more of these things to you to make you a smart student.
Thank you for listening till next week or till the next episode. It’s bye for now