There are four levels of learning and, therefore, four levels at which to teach. Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each, and you will be a much better teacher and student.
1. Telling It
The teacher conveys his knowledge by explaining it. This method often provides the most ego gratification to the teacher and the most entertainment value to the student. However, it is the teaching method that leaves the shallowest impression and is most easily forgotten.
2. Showing It
The teacher does more than talk in abstract terms. He demonstrates his knowledge. Sometimes, he shows pictures or diagrams of what he means. These visual clues help reinforce what he says and fill in the little gaps of misunderstanding or incomprehension that so easily arise when one is using only words. The student who is both told and shown something is much more likely to remember it.
3. Involving the Student
When a teacher involves his student in the learning process by getting him to actually practice the skill, the learning goes deeper. A student who has learned a skill by practicing it not only remembers its principles and elements but also understands how it feels.
4. Letting the Student Teach
The highest and final level of teaching is to supervise the student in teaching. Only when we teach a skill do we discover the limits of our knowledge – and only by identifying those gaps can we fill them in.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]