There are certain things we know. And there are certain things we don’t know. When we think about what we don’t know, there is a certain kind of haze. It’s like your car window being unclean. You can’t see through it. It’s blind.
When you learn the basic concepts of a certain subject, your window is a bit cleaner, but still not crystal clear. If you learn about a subject in-depth, it’s like the window is crystal clear. You can see through it, and see what’s on the other side.
Now if you learn something, and do not implement it, or keep refreshing what you have learned, you will forget about them. It’s just like the car window becoming hazy again because you haven’t used the car for a while.
As a general rule, we carry on with life navigating through triggers. We just respond to what is necessary at the moment, and it takes a long time to build habits. If you are dedicating 1 hour per day to learn, you will want to learn new things rather than refresh old concepts. To go back to old concepts, you need a trigger. Teaching can be a great trigger.
Your expertise in a certain subject lies in how often you refresh the concepts of the subject through implementation and teaching. When you have to teach a certain subject to someone, you have to go back to the basics and build from there. You have to teach in a way the student can understand.
Being a great teacher means that you should be capable of acting like you don’t know what you already know, put yourself in the shoes of the student who doesn’t know what you know, and figure out a way to simplify what you know in way the student can understand, so that the student can eventually come to your level of expertise.
Climbing the ladder is different from helping someone climb the ladder. As you help your student climb the ladder, you also understand the ladder better, which helps you go higher up in the ladder, as the student reaches your level at the ladder.
When you learn something for the first time, the blocks of information have been received by your brain, but it has not been organized. These blocks need to be organized if you are going to build further blocks on top of them. Teaching forces you to arrange these blocks of information with the cement of context.
You need to revisit these blocks because you need a copy of these blocks in your student. As you revisit it, you organize it better. You create a stronger foundation on top which you can add more blocks, eventually building your tower of knowledge.
That’s why teaching is the best way to learn.