Teaching is the one thing that everyone can do to improve their knowledge on the subject, and sharpen those critical thinking skills.
In my last years of school, as I became more acquainted with several of my teachers, I tended to wonder about how intense their job was. This enabled me to understand that the one that truly benefits in a class is the teacher, and the student not necessarily as much.
Being a student vs. being a teacher
As a student, you can sit passively in class, your eyes on the blackboard but your mind somewhere only you know. You might learn a new discovery or gain new insight into the topic being discussed, but you only learn if you put your mind and soul into it. And that’s exactly what a teacher does: plan, prepare and dictate the class. A (good) teacher’s job is to ensure that the student understands the material as best as possible, and the only way to do that is by carrying out the class as efficiently as possible; by preparing material beforehand, creating an interactive dynamic, giving constructive feedback, resolving the students’ doubts and questions, etc.
I sometimes see teaching as akin to giving a long presentation to a class full of younger people who have yet to understand the subject. And when you, the student, prepare for any good presentation, you have to do research and plan out how you will communicate your information best. This process – researching, reading, writing – not only enables you to become acquainted with the topic, but it also forces you to organize your presentation in such way that the audience can understand it.
Benefits of teaching
This post is titled “The Art of Teaching” because I don’t see teaching as something fixed or solely academic, as one would commonly assume. Below I have named some of the benefits of teaching, which revolve around many skills that can be extremely useful to us at other instances of our lives:
1. You become more empathetic and creative
To become a teacher, you need to a) be pretty much an expert on the subject (or at least know more than the student) and b) know how to transmit your knowledge to the student as understandably as possible. To do this, you must understand the perspective of a student that is not as acquainted with the subject as you are, and use varied methods to teach him, e.g. visual representations, plenty of examples, creative options, etc. The more often you do this, the better your skills of empathy and creativity.
2. You can become an expert on the subject
The thing about teaching is that you can do it at any age. If you’re in school or college, you can use your knowledge to teach and earn some money. The experience of teaching itself is valuable enough, and the money can be a rewarding plus 🙂 This will enable you to further explore your academic interests in a situation in which you are no longer the student sitting in a classroom (the change of environment can offer you a fresher perspective).
3. It’s a valuable service
Whether you are teaching a class of 30 students, a small group of 5, or an individual student, teaching them to become better at something is a valuable and intrinsic act of service. Like nurturing a child to become a civilized person, you are nurturing your student(s) to become better and more knowledgeable individuals. And hopefully, this act will inspire your students and they will start teaching others, creating a ripple effect. There’s nothing more rewarding than that.
4. Anyone can teach
You can be either an introvert or extrovert and enjoy teaching a class of students equally as much. As an introvert, I have had some experience teaching in different opportunities, and they have become some of the most rewarding experiences that I have: I have lectured people on a passionate subject of mine (sign language), taught a class full of young children sign language, tutored a small group of disabled students academic subjects, and tutored peers individually on an academic subject.
In my case, though the amount of effort and time I put into preparing the teaching increases as more students/people are involved, I thoroughly enjoyed each teaching experience I got.
Regardless of your personality type, you can always find your teaching ‘niche’. Maybe you enjoy having the personal connection with your student and prefer teaching one-to-one; maybe you like the social interaction of many students, and thrive teaching a class; or you might prefer lecturing a large number of people.
Whatever it is, teaching will reward you with a better understanding of the subject and provide you with the opportunity to know and learn from other people.