The learning process differs for each person. Personal, biological, developmental, and social aspects all play a role in the rate and depth of a person’s learning ability. One thing that remains true is that learning is a continuous process and is a natural part of life.
According to psychological theories, the following methods define how people learn and absorb information:
- Classical conditioning
- Operant conditioning
- Learning through observation
Learning is a multi-dimensional process and is influenced by a wide variety of factors. Another interesting theory revolves around the so-called protégé effect which is based on teaching as a way of learning things. This concept can be very useful for entrepreneurs because it means they can simultaneously hone their skills while building up a team of like-minded individuals.
Teaching and the Protégé Effect
The protégé effect is a phenomenon that supports teaching as a way of learning. This concept can be commonly observed in the academic setting. For instance, it’s not unusual to see students who are studying for their exams teach their peers what they’ve learned so far. By recalling information that has been read, the student discussing the topic understands the lesson better as they continue talking about it with their peers.
Research shows that teaching as a way of learning is effective because it forces you to remember information that you’ve previously studied. It basically works just like how you practice physical movements.
For example, consider athletes who practice dribbling, shooting, or kicking the ball. Through repetition, they develop muscle memory that makes their actions look natural as if they’re born with it.
The same concept goes with teaching. Intentionally digging information from your brain and allowing it to resurface and make connections help you retain it for a longer period. This is more effective than passively recalling the subject by simply reviewing and reading about it.
Although the protégé effect is often seen in the academic setting, the learning benefits of teaching others can also be observed in business scenarios.
In the workplace, the more you explain the protocols, practices, and solutions to your peers, the better you remember the discussed items. You synthesize more information that reinforces your foundation on what you already know and sheds new light on perspectives you’ve never considered before.
The Benefits of Teaching Others
Explaining concepts to others who are less familiar with them can help you understand the said ideas more. Aside from this, here are the other advantages of teaching others that will convince you to apply it as a habit.
- It improves self-awareness
As you impart your knowledge to others, you learn more about yourself and the way you absorb data. You’ll notice how you filter information, pinpointing which part of it you easily remember, and which needs a hard recall. This will reveal your strengths and weaknesses in digesting info which is a crucial skill when you’re running a business.
- It reveals which learning strategies are effective
Being able to build more efficient methods in dissecting essential information is another benefit of teaching other people. When you regularly tackle the same topic, you’ll be able to identify which are the essentials and which are just reinforcing concepts.
Teaching also lets you discern how your peers or students absorb the concept discussed. Which part is confusing and hard for them to understand? What kind of presentation do they like the best? You’ll only get the answers to these as you conduct more discourses on a topic.
- It will motivate you to learn more
People you teach will assume you’re more knowledgeable in the area than they are, so you must consistently meet their expectations. This will motivate you to study more about the subject, so you can help people understand the topic better.
There will be times when people will ask something that you don’t know the answer to. This is normal since you can’t have answers to everything. But you can use this as a fuel to learn more about the topic and be better at the next discussion.
- It helps build a learning culture
Teaching as a way of learning becomes more effective when you encourage others to do the same. Your goal should be to empower others to do what you’re doing and instill a culture of learning. The protégé effect should be made contagious for more people to enjoy the benefits of teaching.
As an entrepreneur, you should aim to make a dependable team that can work without independently. For this to happen, each member has to become experts themselves and become formidable in their respective fields. This will result in a solid team that continuously reach for new levels of competency.
- It contributes to self-development
Intrapersonal development is one of the greatest benefits of teaching. You’ll hone not only your expertise on the subject but also your communication skills. In the long run, you’ll have greater confidence in discussing the topic as you become an authority in the field.
Teaching others also refines your leadership skills. Sharing your knowledge makes you responsible for the validity of the information disseminated. As a subject matter expert, you’ll be viewed as someone who can lead others when it comes to tackling issues and solutions on specific areas.
When you’re an entrepreneur, you need to do more than improve your skills. You have to share your experience with a team and help build their knowledge and skills.
Practicing the Protégé Effect
So, how do you take advantage of the protégé effect as an entrepreneur and make teaching a part of your learning strategy? Here are some tips that will help you harness the benefits of teaching:
- Study the material like you’re going to teach it
Review the topic not only for personal consumption but also for others. Learn the material to the point that you’re comfortable and confident enough to talk about it with people.
You should do more than simply reading about a topic. You must find the answers to the most frequently raised questions so that you’ll be more prepared in case you start teaching the subject to other people.
- Pretend like you’re teaching the material
It may look awkward to practice teaching when you don’t have a real audience, but this is an effective way to tap into the learning benefits of teaching. Visualizing your peers or students and reading aloud your explanations forces your mind to recall all the related information.
- Go out and teach
All your practice will be for naught if you don’t actually teach others. You can start with one-on-one meetings and expand to groups of people as you gradually gain confidence in your knowledge on the subject.
Of course, there’s a cost for gaining the benefits of teaching. The time and effort you’ll spend to instruct others cannot be brought back, so make sure you weigh your actions.
If the subject you’re studying is worth pursuing and works toward your objective, then you should proceed with teaching it as a way of learning. Entrepreneurs often consider mentoring their peers not only because it helps them recall what they’ve learned but also contributes to building a reliable team that can uplift the competency of the whole company.
Otherwise, you can settle with pretending to teach the subject to someone. Visualization will still help you reap the advantages of the protégé effect, but it won’t be as effective as instructing a real person. But with this method, you’ll save invaluable time and effort that you can redirect to other endeavors.
Additional Tips for Continuous Learning
Aside from teaching what you know to others, there are other methods to enhance your memory, improve your knowledge, and broaden your perspective.
The first is by reading books. By consuming more books, you absorb more information and see other perspectives that you’ve never thought about. Equipped with a broader vision, you’ll be able to make better life decisions.
The other is by watching informative videos like talks, documentaries, and other facts-based shows. This is easy to do now, especially with affordable subscription services that give you access to thousands of clips you can watch anytime.
Last is by having meaningful conversations with people. Conducting interviews or even attending conferences of successful and influential people can boost your confidence and knowledge in your area of business. Don’t let go of the opportunity to converse with experts in your field since they can impart knowledge and experience that you’ll never read about in any book.
The benefits of teaching are extensive. It helps not only in making you an expert in a specific subject but also in creating a learning culture which is an undervalued concept in the business field.
As an entrepreneur that embodies FELS ideals, you have to think bigger and become a contagious force that positively affects everyone around you. The most productive way to channel your energy is to mentor others and experience the benefits of teaching. As your peers and students become better in their respective fields, they can pass on what they’ve learned from you by also teaching others who aspire to be better.