This article is a research addendum to Memory & Learning Breakthrough: It Turns Out That The Ancients Were Right. It provides a deeper review of the most interesting research on how teaching helps you before, while, and after you teach.
This research is helpful because it helps you understand and then maximize your teaching process.
The Research On Why You Learn Before
When you learn with the intention to teach (for instance when you are slated to teach a class, lead a mastermind, or give a presentation) you learn more deeply. This happens for a few reasons. First, you spend more time deliberately learning in order to do a good job teaching. Your presentation automatically comes to mind as you go through your day. You approach the learning more intensely. Finally, you come back to your teaching over and over, which naturally takes advantage of spaced retrieval, one of the most powerful and proven memory techniques.
Nothing focuses the mind like the desire to avoid the humiliation of putting ourselves out there as speaker or writer and then bombing. Similarly, nothing focuses the mind more than knowing that your words have the possibility of spreading virally and changing the lives of thousands of people.
The Research On Why You Learn While
Teaching reveals gaps in your knowledge. Have you ever felt that you knew something, but then got tongue tied when you tried to explain it to someone else? This is actually a good thing. It happens because teaching reveals gaps in our knowledge. Research on expert performance shows that this is essential to becoming a top performer. When we’re aware of those gaps, we become more humble, ask more questions, and ultimately fill the gaps in.
In addition, teaching concepts helps you derive underlying principles from daily life. Being able to generalize underlying principles from our experiences is where we exponentially increase our learning. In How Elon Musk Learns Faster And Better Than Everyone Else, I show how this ability to identify underlying principles is a key to Elon Musk’s ability to innovate. Princeton University researcher Tania Lombrozo has studied the effect that teaching/explaining has on this vital skill that Musk personifies. A set of three studies she performed shows that explaining what you’ve learned drastically increases your ability to derive underlying principles and patterns.
Why You Learn After You Teach
Teaching gives you valuable feedback from others. When we teach others, we get feedback on the quality of our teaching and the quality of our insight. In addition, we often are given new ideas, examples, and resources that then help us improve the idea even further.
In addition, teaching makes you accountable to apply what you learn. As a teacher, you feel constant pressure and accountability to be a role model for what you teach. If you do this poorly, you feel like a fraud, akin to a personal trainer who’s out of shape. For example, as someone who writes about learning, I feel extra pressure to follow the 5-Hour Rule and constantly improve my learning ability.
Teach What You Love Full-Time: Your Invitation
If you want to become a celebrity teacher, get a flood of “true fan” readers and customers, teach what you love full time, and transform the lives of others, here’s another action you can take right now…
In my article, The #1 Mental Model For Writers Who Want To Create High-Quality, Viral Content, I reveal the exact strategy I used to go from zero to tens of millions of views in publications like Forbes, Fortune, Time, and the Harvard Business Review — by simply teaching my best ideas for free. If you want to write high-quality, viral articles that make you a celebrity teacher, then you’ll love it.