Teaching is an act of sharing knowledge about a particular topic. Invariably, this activity involves an audience and a varied audience, at that. It’s the presence of this audience, of learners awaiting new understanding that makes teaching a challenging task. Learning by oneself is easier- we have a fair idea of our strengths, weaknesses, and our preferred medium of learning. The involvement of other learners presents the teacher with multiple combinations of varied capabilities and preferences in learning.

Learning makes teaching more effective. The goal of teaching is to facilitate an understanding. Given a varied audience, the teacher needs to individually cater to the multitude of learning preferences. Assume the topic for the day is Rain. Some may prefer a visual aid like a video of a rainy day, while some may like a graphic novel- a story weaved into the concept of rain with the sky and clouds as characters. Both require the teacher to have learnt to use these media to explain the concept effectively. In this case, to learn is to explore new avenues of explanation. The introduction of projectors and slideshows is a new avenue. To perform a short skit imbibing the fundamentals of a concept is one, too.

Learning enables the teacher to guide different students differently. The preferences in learning are varied to the extent that some prefer to have a basic understanding while some prefer a more nuanced foundation. The heart pumps blood to the rest of the body is a satisfactory concept to some. Yet others may want a closer look into the anatomy, knowing exactly where it is that blood enters first in the heart, what creates the pump and how it is transported to the different body parts through different vessels.

Similarly, a learner may be content with knowing about the six planets in our solar system and yet another may want to explore asteroids and meteors or different facts about the Milky Way galaxy or a new galaxy altogether. These differential needs lead the teacher back to the drawing board to, this time, learn more deeply to guide the understanding in a new direction which the learner may enjoy. A broad and deep understanding of the topic equips the teacher to nurture new inquiries.

Thus, learning significantly improves teaching. Built into this conclusion is the dynamic nature of learning- our understanding of a concept is always evolving, and rightly so. There are hidden treasures of insights under different beds of knowledge. The best teachers are adventurers who are always in pursuit of those.

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