Learning through Teaching

We’ve all heard the saying, “those you can’t do, teach.” It’s unclear exactly where this quote originated, but it’s quite obvious how much it undervalues teachers.

Earlier today, I was thinking about how I am learning Swift and going through so much content at such a rapid pace, especially compared to my traditional computer science education from college (which I failed). I wondered if and how I would be able to retain enough of the information as I continued to learn more advanced concepts.

At first, I thought I’d look for other resources online where I could practice, to keep the information fresh while allowing it to sink in. Secondly, I wanted to take some of my working sample code and extend it to see if I can add certain features. I have a few ideas but I’m not sure how far that will take me, or really help review the core concepts.

A few hours later, I received an email from the website where I’m taking my courses, which had several questions posted in the sections I’d already completed. I looked through a few of them and found two that I thought I could answer.

Upon reviewing their code challenges, I tried to solve them without looking up the answers or reviewing any of the material. It took me a few minutes, but I was actually able to remember how to complete them and gave useful feedback to the people seeking help.

In doing so, I not only helped them solve their problem, I also helped myself with my own learning by reviewing what for me was old material. Perhaps the greatest benefit I received in helping these two people was the huge confidence boost I got from knowing I could answer their questions, which will also help me as I continue with my own progress.

I’m not yet a great or even very good programmer, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be looking for ways to help others who are just starting out.

Teaching may seem like an obvious thing to do for some people, but for those of us who don’t do it every day, it doesn’t always occur to me as something I am qualified to do. But with all the benefits that come from it, I realized it is probably the best way to help me learn as well.

Is there something you’re learning that you can start teaching someone else?

Leave a Reply