Do you want to remember about 90% of everything that you’ve learned?
Well, who doesn’t?
After doing some blog posts for Brainiosity, I came across a pattern of the best ways to learn, and one particular way came back over and over again.
That way to learn is: teaching others what you learn.
And I know what you’re thinking… Nick, I already know this advice, and it won’t benefit me if you talk about this again.
But do you actually know how to teach others properly? And are you actually implementing this advice in your own life?
I don’t think so. That’s why I’m making this post, to show you why you should consider teaching others what you learn and how to do it.
Why teaching others is the best way to learn
During the 1960s an American Educator named Edgar Dale creating the Dale’s Cone Of Experience. In here he tried to look at the ways how people learn, from reading to listening to seeing and also teaching.
He found out that the more effort we put in our learnings, the more possibility there is for us to retain that information. He made a statement that we keep 90% of the information if we teach others what we learn and that it is by far the best way to learn new things.
A lot of other professors in the next years have debunked this statement of Edgar Dale, by saying that we don’t retain 90% of the information, by just teaching others what we learn, but we remember it by doing something with the info we get. And there is no way to be exact about the percentages that are displayed in Dale’s Cone Of Experience.
These professors and even Edgar Dale are asking us not to take the numbers we see above in the picture too seriously. We have no way to be sure that these are the exact numbers and that it also workes for everyone the same way. There is no ‘real scientific’ grounding that can defend Dale’s Cone Of Experience of being a good way to measure our retention.
But, this doesn’t mean that teaching others what you learn is not extremely useful for you to use if you want to learn new information. It has been proven over and over again that teaching others is definitely a great way to learn.
Why you should be teaching others what you learn
Like previously stated, teaching others what you learn will help you with whatever you’re learning. And it’s a method that you should try to apply as much as you can.
I think there are many different reasons why it’s good to teach others, but if you want to learn efficiently, it should be one of the ways you are going to attack your learning. I have looked at different studies and what they found out about why teaching others if effective.
I wanted to take a little bit of another approach to giving you reasons why you should teach, these are the reasons that actually made me go and try to teach other people what I learned.
Teaching others will make you learn it twice
Whenever you teach someone else what you’ve learned, you are learning it twice or more. Your brain has to think about the information again and try to retrieve it and explain it to someone else.
This actually makes sure you are learning something multiple times, and it’s the art of repetition learning in another way.
Instead of just repeating the information over and over again by yourself at home, you are teaching someone else the information in a fun way, and you are getting your repetitions in.
Whenever you are teaching others, you are actually also teaching yourself again.
” To Teach is to learn twice “Joseph Joubert
Teaching others can help you think creatively
When you’re teaching someone else what you’ve learned, you will have to find creative ways on how to teach the person the same information that you’ve learned. This will make sure that your creative thinking will get fired up, and you will start to think differently.
I actually just found out that there is a popular post thread on Reddit, it’s a thread called Explain Like I’m Five. And here people ask questions about all kinds of topics and others will give them a simple answer. You explain the answer in a way that you would explain it to a five-year-old.
It’s interesting to see how many people are trying to find creative ways to explain hard topics in simple terms, for example, this one about how Tesla makes self-driving cars. This makes them think differently and more creatively.
Whenever you are going to teach someone else whatever you’ve learned, try to explain it in a different and more creative way then you’ve learned it from your own source. This will not only make sure you learn the information twice but will help you with your creative thinking.
Teaching others puts you out of your comfort zone
This one was a big one for me. Teaching someone else the knowledge I gained is a huge step out of my comfort zone, it still is to this day. But that’s not a reason to not teach others whatever you’ve learned.
As Tony Robbins put it so perfectly: “All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.”
That’s also true for teaching others what you’ve learned. If you’re someone who has never done it, that means that this is still something you will have to learn by doing it. And whenever we are going to do something we’ve never done before, there is a little fear because we are still incompetent in that area.
But if you keep teaching others what you learn, you will grow as a person and become better at teaching. You might even enjoy it a lot and start doing it more professionally and who knows, maybe also become a teacher.
But it’s good to remember that it’s normal to start with feeling uncomfortable when you’re just beginning to teach others. You will have to put yourself out of your comfort zone and still do it because teaching others will benefit you and the person you are teaching.
How to teach others what you learn
Now we know why we should teach others, we should also look at ways on how you can teach others what you’ve learned.
Teach in your own words
When you’re teaching someone else, the most important tip I can give you is that you’ll have to teach it in your own words.
Don’t try to use the exact same words and sentences that have been used when you’ve learned that information, because if you do that, you are not teaching, but the person who taught you is actually teaching.
The key is here not just to give a summary but to really understand the topic first and try to explain it in your own words. You need to explain exactly what you think about the topic, this will enhance your own understanding and will retain the information even better.
Before you are going to explain it to someone else, try to get a good grasp on what you’re learning and see if you actually understand it well enough to teach it to someone else.
You don’t need to know every single bit, but enough so you can actually talk about a certain topic and don’t be constantly looking at your notes. Because:
You should not use cheat-notes.
This comes along with teaching others what you learn in your own words, but it’s something that it utterly important if you want to get the most out of your learning.
While you’re teaching others what you’ve learned, it’s important to try to retrieve the information from your brain instead of having “cheat-notes” where you can look every time you forget something.
There was a study by a University in Singapore, that took 120 children and tested if the students learned better if they taught others what they’ve learned.
They gave all the children the same kind of new information and made sure that this information was new for all children. And split them up into groups, one group learned the information by taking notes, one taking notes and teaching it to others and one had could take notes, but when they were teaching others, they were not allowed to use the notes.
What they found out was that the children who took notes and the children who taught others with notes didn’t have a big difference in their learnings. But only the group who had to teach others without notes made a significant improvement in their learning.
So next time you’re about to teach someone else whatever you’ve learned, don’t use your notes to explain it, just try to retrieve it from your memory, this will make sure that you consolidate the information better in your own brain.
Find people who are interested in it
If you want to teach others what you learn, you’ll have to find people who are willing to listen to you and participate in whatever you’re trying to do. This might sometimes even be a hard part for some if we got a particular topic that we’re interested in, but others don’t want to listen, we will have a hard time finding people that are willing to listen.
The first thing you can do, something I do myself sometimes, explain it to a rubber duck.
Yes, a rubber duck.
When I was learning how to code websites, I got the advice from a forum that I should get a rubber duck and just explain all the difficult topics to it whenever I needed to understand something more in-depth. And I actually got a rubber duck and just started talking to it, it might seem strange at first, but if it helps it’s worth it, right?
The next thing you can do is to just ask people in your close circle, ask everyone around you. Your family members, friends, girlfriends, classmates, colleges, and whoever you have in your life. Explain why you’re doing it and that if they are interested in learning this topic, it will be beneficial for them.
Just make sure that whatever you’re teaching might really be beneficial for them, it will create a bigger chance of them accepting your offer.
The last thing you could do is joining a community. Joining a community that is about the topic you’re trying to learn will be amazingly beneficial for your learnings.
First of all, you will surround yourself with people that are also interested in that topic and that love to talk about it. You will gain new insights from others, and you will have a look at the topic from different perspectives. Next, you will meet new people and grow your network, which will provide you more value in the future.
But what you can do next if you join a community is to ask if you can teach others by giving a talk about a certain topic. This will make sure that the people who are listening to you are actually interested in the information you’re providing to them.
This will be beneficial for them, because they learn new things, and also to you because you learn the information even better as you have to teach it in front of a group. You’ll have to prepare it, talk about it and maybe even answer questions about it.
This all will make sure that the information will be ingrained in your brain.
You can find meetups everywhere on the internet, from meetup.com to whatever site or application they use in your region. Just type in google what kind of group or community you are searching for.
Now you know why teaching others what you learn is extremely effective and how you can start teaching others.
The only thing now standing in your way is you.
You just have to start putting this into practice, don’t just read this blog post, close it up, and continue with whatever you were doing before.
Actually take a step to put this into practice. Go find someone who you can teach, or look for a community that you can join and join one of their meetings.
I’ve started Brainiosity to teach you whatever I learn along the way.
What is your next step?