Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Guaranteed: Best way to learn

Einstein apparently said that you have only understood something properly when you are able to explain it to your grandmother. Almost 2000 years earlier, the Talmudic Sage Rabbi Chanina said: “I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues and from my students most of all.”

Sir Francis Bacon (a less-kosher source, I guess) claimed that “knowledge is power” and most people would agree with him. In a Jewish sense, understanding what you’re doing and appreciating the value of your heritage is enriching and empowering.

Considering how valuable knowledge is, it would be a good idea to determine the most effective way to gain knowledge (and to keep it). You could spend fortunes on a money-back-guarantee study-skills course. You might attend a lucrative mind-power seminar. You may consider vitamin supplements that boost brain power, begin a meditation routine or learn hypnosis to improve concentration.

Or, you could use Torah’s time-proven method.

Chabad’s first leader, the Alter Rebbe declared: “When you teach another person, your own mind and heart become a thousand times more focused”. Decades later, the Rebbe insisted that this formula is literal- after teaching someone else, you will manage to understand something that should have taken 1000 hours in just a single hour. When you teach someone else, they will ask questions that you would never have asked, will make observations you might never have conceived of and may challenge what you take for granted. You know this from your children- teaching them opens new vistas of discovery for you. In my teaching experience, I have been consistently surprised at the fresh insights my high school students bring to subjects I thought I had studied thoroughly.

You may think that this sounds like a nice idea- for someone else. After all, you probably imagine that you don’t yet have enough knowledge to teach someone else. To that, the Rebbe countered, “If you know Alef, teach Alef”. In other words, whatever little Jewish knowledge you have, share. If you are waiting to grow your own education, consider that the best way to increase what you know is actually to teach.

Teaching is the best way to learn, guaranteed. Take advantage!

1 comment:

Greg said...

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