Jeremy Côté


Can You Teach What You’ve Learnt?

Teachers are usually regarded as people who are experts at their subject. They may not be literal experts (such as those who teach scientific courses), but they have usually enough experience to make them experts. This expertise is usually forged through many years of teaching and working with students.

However, I’ve found that it has been extremely helpful for me to revisit content through the lens of a tutor. By switching roles from the person who is learning to the one who is explaining the concept, I’ve found that it helps reinforce the ideas in my own mind. When I can teach a concept to another student, it shows that I know what I’m talking about.

For me, the main reason I find this helpful is that teaching another student can be tricky. Often, the way you see something in your mind is not at all how another person sees it. Therefore, when teaching you have the challenge of not only transmitting an idea to the student, but of translating it as well.

This is particularly pertinent for the students I help in secondary school. Since that period of my life is several years old, the way in which I attack problems or situations demanding the skill set from that time has cemented in my mind. However, I need to sometimes put that aside when working with other students and focus on how they see the situation.

It’s a challenge that I think is worth thinking about. When learning a new concept, ask yourself: “Am I comfortable enough with this concept that I could actually explain it to someone else?” Trying to answer this question in the affirmative is a good way of assuring yourself that you’ve studied well.

It’s easy to have enough knowledge that you “pass” through a test without being noticed for your lack of knowledge. However, it’s much more difficult to do when you need to explain the entire concept to someone who has no experience. There, you can’t fall back on the chance that you won’t be asked a question on the one thing you aren’t sure about.

You can pass through a test without being discovered, but your goal should be to be capable of explaining a concept.