Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Learning the reasons

I was given some good piece of advice recently on teaching that on teaching that I'd like to share with you that helps improve the way you teach someone whether formally as a teacher or just teaching your friend or family.

We often teach by going through concepts, ideas, and telling people that should do it this way or that way. Yet if the person (we'll call them the 'student') we're teaching doesn't understand the reasoning behind it then generally their learning is quite rigid and restricted to the particular situation/ environment being taught. 

For example, say you're teaching someone how to swim. You tell them that they must stroke their arms and keep their elbows out of the water and this may help them to swim better. And you may need to prompt or adjust their arms for them to swim properly. This is as they may not necessary know how to confirm themselves that they are doing it properly.

Yet if you also taught them that keeping their elbows out of the water means that they create little resistance than that'll more likely bend their elbows more appropriately and naturally, as not all your prompting or adjusting may have led them to the same outcomes. They may personally find a comfortable way to swim. 

Of course, not all students even with an understanding of the reasoning will improve as sometimes it can confuse the student. This as with most things, there is no 'one size fits all' rule. I have found that it works in most cases and that you adjust your teaching style to each student. This is certainty a useful technique to consider and may help you improve the way you engage in an activity or technique yourself and encouraging thinking to improve things. It's certainty something to think about and will allow you and/or your student to look beyond the action or technique. So next time you try teach someone something, also teach the reasons behind it as well!

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