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Learn, To Teach.

"If you really want to learn something, teach it to someone". That old saying is indeed a key to learning to master something - a new skill, a dance, a math equation. Teaching is a skill and also an art, so it's a good idea to start by leaning to teach. Being a very good teacher requires three things.

The first is an understanding of what you're teaching. This almost goes without saying: if you want to teach someone you have to know the subject matter first. Let's use dancing as an example. If you want to learn to dance, you may watch someone and imitate them. Perhaps it comes naturally to you. But if you want to teach someone the steps to a dance, you first have to learn the steps yourself. You have to break them down in your mind, so that you can feed them to someone else, as a parent would feed pieces of a meal to a child. When you can identify the pieces that constitute the whole, and explain how the pieces fit together, then you have truly mastered what you have studied. This is what makes learning with a view to teaching, such a powerful practice for developing the mind.

The second thing required to excel at teaching, is an understanding of how the person you are teaching thinks. This is where the art begins. You will be challenged to connect the dots in a way that your student's mind will grasp. More often than not, teaching someone involves figuring out what they do not undertand. You need to thoroughly understand what you're teaching, so that you can see the small pieces that  your student is missing. To draw on the example of dancing, the difference between taking a step, and taking a wide enough step to provide support for the next move, may be the detail that throws your student off balance. You may never have thought about how you maintain balance when you execute the move. Presented with a student who is unable to maintain balance forces you to think about your balance, and thereby deepens your understanding of how you dance. No matter how well you understand something, you will understand it even more, when you are forced to teach it to another unique mind.

The third and final requirement is patience. It takes patience to mentally scour something that you think you already know. It takes patience to try things a different way, so as to test theories and gain new insight. And of course it takes patience to teach someone whose skull may appear as thick as the floor on which you're dancing. But if you're patient with yourself, and with your student, you will both benefit greatly from the learning experience.

Learning with a view to teaching, is a surefire way to truly comprehend the breath and depth, of any concept or skill. If you approach every learning experience with the goal of teaching it to someone, then you will greatly enhance your learning, and ultimately find it easier to teach someone else.
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