The Best Way to Learn
What’s the most effective way to learn? What’s your learning preference? Have you ever had the experience of learning more deeply by teaching?
There are many proven learning strategies to help you “hack learning" and master new knowledge or skills and I want to focus on a method that brings it all together for me: learning by teaching. I’m not just talking about traditional teaching, like in a classroom setting.
Many of us teach without even knowing it: showing a relative to use an Iphone, explaining aspects about the world to a child, sharing the ins and outs of your hobby with a friend, etc. Learning by teaching is so powerful because it requires the “teacher” to revisit and breakdown the concept/skill and then to build it up again in a way that makes sense to each user. Occasionally, the user even challenges the teacher’s assumptions, which encourages more learning. In other words, the humble and conscious “teacher” never stops learning.
Since grade school, I remember that I’d study in phases: by myself, then with a group. Once I felt like I had a certain comfort level with the content or skill, I’d actively find opportunities to explain or teach others who wanted help. I didn’t realize until University that teaching was actually giving me a huge learning boost. I also realized that I was using this pattern in all areas of my life: sports, personal growth, school, work, and now, side-hustles! ;)
Nowadays, I take it one step further by doing my best to help people learn by helping them become coaches of their own (train the trainer style) whether that be through leadership development, relationship coaching, change management training, or martial arts instruction. My goal is to help people become leaders who build more leaders! A topic for another post…
Therefore, my approach to learning has been to learn by teaching/sharing and certainly, by collaborating.
This approach guided Lindsey and I when we were looking for a change management certification back in 2016. We didn’t want to simply learn a set of tools that would help us to improve our own practice. We wanted to learn something that we could practice, use and TEACH to help others, like a ripple effect. That’s when a colleague referred us to Barbara Trautlein, PhD.
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Barbara and during our awesome conversation, the importance of learning by teaching was crystallized. We were talking about three levels of empowering an organization to thrive through change:
we can train people to cope with change,
we can teach people to manage change, and/or,
we can coach people to lead change… by “building a coaching culture”.
The latter is always our goal because it helps the organization continuously learn and grow from within and as a whole. This is compelling because in my opinion, learning by teaching isn’t only beneficial, but it’s also a responsibility because education should build capacity, transformation, awareness, compassion and empathy.
I’ll be putting all of this into practice this fall: in October, I’ll be facilitating a workshop at a Mental Health Conference on the relationship between well-being and social connection. Before that, Lindsey and I will be hosting the first ever Relationship Zen Date Night in St. Thomas, Ontario. In November, we’re facilitating a change leadership workshop at the Toronto Change Days conference! If you’ll be there, I look forward to learning alongside you!
Those are my thoughts for the week. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts about learning: how do you learn?
If you want to know if I can assist with your personal or professional learning goals, feel free to book a consult below!