To Learn, Teach

A couple of years ago, as I was lunching with a friend, he asked me a simple question. If all life started with one simple organism, how did so many complex species evolve?

By this time, I had already begun studying Anthropology (my Optional subject), so he naturally assumed that I should be able to handle such basic questions on the topic. Infact, I thought the same. But, it’s only when I started explaining, that I noticed that I was wrong about how much I knew.

Instead of answering in simple and clear language, I stumbled and fumbled my way through using high-sounding terms such as ‘adaptation’, ‘hybridisation’, ‘natural selection’, and all the complex terminology associated with evolution. 

Midway through the explanation, I noticed I wasn’t making much sense— either to him or myself. I was frustrated at this point and just wanted a dignified way out. I covered up my lack of knowledge by telling my friend that the topic is too complicated for him and that it requires prior knowledge to understand it clearly. We then moved on to discussing something else. 

But, the nagging feeling that there were gaps in my understanding persisted. The more I thought about the experience, the more I realized that it was not so much my friends’ incompetence but my own shallow understanding of the concept that made it impossible for me to explain it clearly. 

That was when it dawned on me that to know how well you understand a topic, try teaching it to someone who is not as well-versed with the subject. As you try making it simple and understandable, you are forced to drill down the concept to its fundamentals, and in the process, your own understanding becomes much clearer. Later that year, I discovered the Feynman technique, and it only solidified my belief that teaching is the best way to learn. 

When you are learning a new concept, after every few paragraphs, take a pause and explain it to yourself in your own words. When you can do that convincingly, that’s when you have gained the conceptual understanding of the topic. Being able to explain a complex topic in the simplest of language is a sign of absolute mastery.

As Feynman once said, there is a difference between knowing the concept and knowing the name of the concept. Teaching it to yourself or someone else is the best way to find out which category you fall under.

28 thoughts on “To Learn, Teach

  1. Nandini Thakur

    Dear sir..
    You are an inspiration to all younger students.

    Reply
  2. Abhilash Singh

    The evergreen Feynman technique. Works everytime.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Thank you sir

    Reply
  4. satyam261

    This is one of the thing which everyone faces yet some people realise as in your case otherwise people put it on the back burner. That’s where it needs identification!

    Reply
  5. Priyanka

    A fellow traveller once gave me this Gyan. He asked me what a hunter gatherer means, i started to describe to him with several words like forager, nomad. At the end he said “a man who hunts and gathers his food is a hunter gatherer, that simple line would have sufficed”. he then said try to explain things in laymen words, using complex sentences will only make it less understandable.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I agree with you

      Reply
  6. Nikhil adhikari

    Completely agree with you Sir!!

    Reply
  7. Vidhi P

    Clear and sorted.Thank you!Sir

    Reply
  8. Korapakhi

    Amazing ♥️

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Wowww sir that’s fantastic….and yes i totally agree with ur thoughts that for learning something in greater aspect teach that to another one or urself

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Thank you sir.. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Good sir

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    Tysm sir for this article.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Clear, concise and to the point. Once you absorb a concept, it comes out naturally without any effort. Thumbs up! 👍

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    It is really important to teach others and that is what you are completely conceptual!! Of course it is correct. But to whom should we teach? That is also a big question!! Because you have to find someone who is not so learned about the topic..

    Reply
  15. Aradhana

    Sir it’s really helpful to us because the same things hppn withs us.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    Kuch sikhna ho to samne wla ke sath patience
    Rakhna chahiye aur simple word ke sath explain kare

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    😍

    Reply
  18. Anonymous

    。◕‿◕。✨

    Reply
  19. Anonymous

    Awesome sir😘😘

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    That’s really a golden piece of advice. Thank you for the knowledge.

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    This is really a excellent advice and inspiring too…tq very much sir

    Reply
  22. Anonymous

    Sir, you are an inspiration for all of us. Thank you for such wonderful ideas.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Great sir 🙏

      Reply
  23. Anonymous

    Yes, rightly said and Illustrated. To Learn, teach.

    Reply
  24. Anonymous

    Thank you Sir.. 🙂

    Reply

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