At first glance you may think that learning by teaching is as simple as having a student teach another student. However, it is much more complex and here we will briefly discuss what learning by teaching entails.
For hundreds of years people have known that we learn when we teach. This is not a new concept. For the regular teacher of a class this may be a hard thing to let students do as the teacher may feel as though they have had to give up some control. Actually the opposite is true. The regular teacher has to be so in tune with the curriculum being offered that no matter who is presenting it the regular teacher stands ready to intervene and finish the thought, concept or activity that goes with the lesson. It isn’t like teachers ask students to do the teaching so that they can have the afternoon off.
The other misconception that may arise is that learning by teaching is the same as tutoring. This is not true. Learning by teaching is actually giving over a lesson of new material to the student and having the student do immense preparation at work so that they can then present the course work to the class on a high level of interaction and discussion. The information should be new so that the teaching student is actually learning something in depth. If the information were old it would be like any one teaching someone else to brush their teeth, none of us would learn something new from this, we would just be modeling a behavior or task. These are very different situations.
There is a model of learning by teaching called LdL by Martin. This began in the 1980′s with foreign language. This is a great medium for this type of teaching as are individual music lessons. Martin’s method is different from that information above in that he did not believe that new information be presented but that the students be broken up into small groups to discuss and do activities having to do with the lesson.
In these little group you could say that the actual teacher is taking an inventory of what the student’s actually know about a concept. They expect everyone else in the group to be absolutely silent while each student takes a term talking about what they know. Unless there are interruptions to clear up the teacher has to stand back and just let the group be. This can be very hard because a teacher may want to interject but that is not what the group is for. The teacher basically becomes a facilitator for group learning.
After a concept is discussed in this manner then a new concept is introduced by the student that is teaching. After the concept is presented the student that is teaching provides time and activities to help the other students memorize the necessary material. Then they are to give the students ample work to do at home. Martin believes that the homework is a necessary component in reinforcing what was learned.
No matter the method used in learning by teaching it is just common sense that we all have opportunities to prepare material and activities and then to present such things to our peers. This is priceless experience for students. Then the student has not just thoroughly learned a new lesson but they have preparation skills, public speaking experience, and other great experiences that are just as key as the lesson material itself. It is also good for all students to accept the fact that a peer can impart new information or ideas. It is just a way of showing respect to others.