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Posts Tagged ‘teach

Schools that use the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) for career guidance and other programmes need to learn what a sham and scam it is.

The MBTI is not scientifically-based, and yet companies make a healthy profit off the tests they offer to schools and workplaces. But I fear that this important message falls on deaf ears.

If you cannot reach them, you cannot teach them.

One of my teaching mantras is that if you cannot reach them, you cannot teach them. Since scientific thinking and hard facts about the fallacy of the Myers-Briggs personality test might be too boring and dry, here is something to whet the appetite.

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For a fuller and more satisfying meal, try this menu item.

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Videos are not teaching material miracles in themselves. If I recorded myself just stating the facts, I would create a video-based lecture. Then not only would I have deaf ears, I would also get closed eyes.

The two videos above are spiced with a bit of drama and simplification, but they stay true to the story and facts. They are designed to disarm the learner and elicit emotions. Only then might they inform.

This reverses the order of traditional teaching, which seeks to inform first and perhaps does not even disarm and elicit. This is one way effective videos level up in order to reach before they teach.

I understand the sentiment behind this tweet. But I have to point this out: Sentiment needs to meet reality.

In Pokémon Go, it is very difficult to catch them all. You might wish to, but you cannot.

In every classroom, it is just as difficult, if not more so, to reach and then teach them all. You want to, but you cannot.

If you cannot reach them, you cannot teach them.

This does not mean that teachers should give up on students. They should give up on tag lines like “catch them all” or “teach them all” and focus on reaching their students first.

Reaching involves the heart first and the mind later. It starts with the learner and learning, not the teacher and teaching. It means going to where they are and need to be, not dragging them to where you are or were.

Can just about anyone teach?

No. Not just anyone can teach, no matter what a vendor or consultant tells you. But just about everyone has an opinion on how and what to teach.

Experiencing what teaching was like from a student’s perspective or offering remedial tuition one-on-one does not qualify you to be a teacher.

That is like saying a first aider is a surgeon or someone who knows how to change a car’s oil is a mechanic. These people do not have deep knowledge, experience, and expertise.

Can everyone teach someone else a thing or two?

Yes. Everyone has something to offer, just not in the traditional understanding of what it means to teach or be a teacher.

Anyone with the right access can teach someone else anywhere in the world via a blog, a YouTube video, or a FaceTime call. A few are good at doing this and they get even better with failed attempts and persistence.

Just do not confuse that with teaching and educating as a profession. It is a job or a calling that combines psychology, parenting, management, instructional design, public speaking, coaching, counselling, evaluating, and so much more.

So, yes, everyone can teach. But, no, not everyone is an educator.

I thought I should post this to remind myself (and interested others) why it is important for students to teach.

Peer or reciprocal teaching is one of the three dimensions of my flipped learning model. I developed this model in 2013. Here is a slide I shared at a conference in 2015.

Three dimensions of flipped learning: Classroom, learner as creator, learner as teacher.

Last year, I revisited why it is important for learners to teach. To sum the ideas up, they were that peer teaching:

  • requires the learner to recall, process, and reprocess information
  • brings order to the messiness of learning
  • allows learners to use language and examples they relate to
  • is a direct, purposeful experience that makes the abstract more concrete

For these applied concepts and more, read two seminal articles on the importance of teaching to learn.

Palincsar, A., & Brown, A. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities. Cognition and Instruction, 1, 117-175. [download]

Whitman, N.A. & Fife, J.D. (1988). Peer Teaching: To Teach Is To Learn Twice. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4. [download]

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Yesterday I started explaining why it is important to reach kids first before attempting to teach them.

There is another important reason to do this: Every child is different.

The content of the video (the birds and the bees; human sexual reproduction) is the same. But as the video illustrates, the kids enter with very different prior knowledge, expectations, and reactions. If we rely on only one method, they will revolt.

If we observe and listen to them carefully, we learn how better to teach them.

One of the messages I try to deliver at talks is: You can’t teach them if you can’t reach them.

This Vimeo video illustrates that in a story.

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Without spoiling too much, the protagonist fails to connect with a love interest because she uses a conventional but ineffective method. She learns a whole new language to make that connection.

The same could be said about teachers who truly wish to educate their students. They must reach their students first. If they do not, they might as well be talking to brick walls.

They must not teach as they were taught. They must learn a new language, one that is enabled by various technologies, in order to reach first, and teach second.

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This video by Hank Green highlights a finding in research that a more effective way to learn is to teach.

Researchers tested the effect of students being told to teach content vs being told that they would sit for a test. However, all the students (including the ones told to teach) were tested. What were the results?

Participants expecting to teach produced more complete and better orga- nized free recall of the passage (Experiment 1) and, in general, correctly answered more questions about the passage than did participants expecting a test (Experiment 1), particularly questions covering main points (Experiment 2), consistent with their having engaged in more effective learning strategies.

However, the study seemed to stop short of recommending that students actually teach to learn better.

I know this teach-to-learn strategy works because this is how I conduct my courses and workshops. But do not take my word for it.

The serendipitous publishing of a MindShift article on students teaching other students sheds some light on the why this works.


  • can find ways to make the content more relevant and exciting
  • are more creative with relating concepts or ideas
  • are closer to the “a-ha” moments and reach their peers in a more visceral way

I have also reflected on at least two other occasions on why teaching to learn is effective.

In writing about my second dimension of flipped learning, I mentioned how teaching requires learners to practice content delivery and to be active sense-makers.

Learning Pyramid by dkuropatwa, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  dkuropatwa 

Note: Take the percentages with more than a pinch of salt. The numbers cannot be substantiated.

When I shared the learning pyramid and justified my three dimensions of flipped learning, I mentioned how teaching was a process of cyclic processing, reprocessing, and reflection that honed a teacher’s internalization and treatment of content.

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