Teaching is the Best Way to Learn

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Teaching is the Best Way to Learn

Sometimes, reminders of important lessons come in the most peculiar forms.

I’ve long known that one of the best ways to truly understand a concept is to teach it to others. The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “While we teach, we learn.” Modern behavioral scientists call it “the protégé effect.”

You’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. In our leadership seminars, we often have participants teach certain concepts to the rest of the group. This helps the “teacher” as much as, if not more than, the learners. I did the same thing when I was teaching college. It works.

I recently joined a new gym. Not because it’s January (lol), but because the one I’d been going to for years closed its doors. The set-your-own-combination lockers at the new gym take some getting used to. Pretty simple in concept. But a little tricky (I found) in practice. It’s all in the sequencing.

Now, I’m a functionally intelligent person, with two college degrees, and fully capable of summoning an Uber, without any assistance from a hipster. But I could not (until recently – keep reading) figure out how to work these lockers! Thank goodness for the attendant with the “special key” (which, I must say, he deployed with rather ill grace, after the first time. But that’s the subject for another blogpost.).

So my gym buddies found it both ironic and entertaining, when one day several weeks ago, an even newer member asked ME to help him learn to use the lockers. The phrase “Oh, yeah, this oughta be good!” was distinctly heard issuing from the mouth of one of my closest compatriots.

“Here. You go like this. Make sure the lock is in the 12:00 position. Then set your combination. And remember it. THEN, turn the lock to the 3:00 position, and scramble the numbers. Voila!”

Since that day, I’ve nailed it every time. Something about concentrating on the process, and demonstrating it to someone else, locked it (pardon the pun) into my little pea brain, from which I have been able to readily access it ever since.

Try this: rather than you, the leader, doing all the teaching, delegate some of it to your followers. This works especially well with processes, procedures, safety training, and even certain conceptual topics like organizational values.

And while they teach, they’ll learn.

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