Teach to Learn

Teaching a concept is one of the best ways to learn it.

Repetition and practice are key to learning any new skill. But to truly master something, you must also practice teaching it.

This seems counterintuitive, but teaching greatly helps you develop skills once you move past the beginner level. Teaching is a great vehicle for learning because:

  • it forces you to clarify your thinking and systemize concepts
  • it forces you to think about how people other than yourself might understand that concept
  • it forces you to re-examine your assumptions and biases
  • it exposes you to questions that might expose the limits of your knowledge.

Or, to quote Albert Einstein:

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

—Albert Einstein

It’s important to understand that teaching doesn’t just improve the student. By forcing clarity into the thinking and communication, it also improves the teacher.

Once you get to black belt, teaching and creating educational material becomes one of the most effective ways to increase your knowledge.

What if you’re only a white belt?

If you’re inexperienced – especially if you’re a white belt – you probably feel like you’ve got no business teaching Jiu-Jitsu. And that’s totally understandable. But consider a few things:

  • Everyone – no matter how inexperienced – has a unique and valuable lesson to teach.
  • You’re not a fraud if you’re up front about the limitations of your knowledge.

When you’re teaching, you’re not trying to replace your instructor. You’re just trying to organize the knowledge in your head, share it with your teammates, and put it up to scrutiny.

And if you’re not comfortable actually teaching, or if you don’t have the opportunity? Create a course. Put your lessons into writing. The mere process of doing this will force you to organize your thoughts, help you find patterns, and expose your weaknesses in ways you didn’t even consider.

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