Learning a new skill can be incredibly difficult. But, avoiding certain pitfalls can make it easier.
Today I want to uncover one crucial mistake we see beginners make all the time and most importantly, how you can avoid it.
Let’s get started with what you might know as the typical learning process.
Typical Learning Process
Tell me if this looks familiar:
- You want/need to learn something.
- So you Google it.
- Read through a tutorial.
- Go through a blog post.
- Find a video or course – you watch it.
- Then you copy the code and attempt to practice.
You may be doing that, and it’s not all bad, but you’re missing one critical phase.
So what’s this big mistake everyone makes?
It’s this: skipping the teaching phase.
Skipping the teaching phase is one of the biggest mistakes because teaching closes the learning loop.
Teaching brings everything full circle. You don’t truly know something until you can teach it to someone else.
Why do I advocate for teaching what you know?
When you get in an interview, you’re teaching someone about the knowledge you have.
Or, when a coworker asks for help, you’re teaching them the knowledge you have.
Or maybe you’re giving a presentation at work, you’re teaching them what you know.
Wherever you’re at, this will show up at work, home, and in front of other people.
A study on this was done not so long ago.
For 10 minutes, people studied text with accompanying figures about the doppler effect and sound waves. They had no previous knowledge about this topic. They could take notes but weren’t allowed to bring their notes to the next phase.
In the next phase, the participants were divided into four groups, with one group asked to come back and teach from memory.
The other groups were asked to come back, and in the meantime, they were asked to do arithmetic, stand up, teach verbatim from a script, or write down all they could remember.
They found that the teaching without notes groups outperformed the other groups when asked to come back a week later and teach.
It’s important to note that there were comparable results to the group that wrote down their thoughts, but the group who taught in front of others without notes performed best.
One of the best things you can do as a developer is to teach.
I want to share a few ways to do this.
I know not everyone wants to get up in front of an audience and teach, so let’s talk through a few different approaches.
- Write a blog
You can write a blog to teach your knowledge. The great thing? You don’t have to make it public.
- YouTube video
Make a video to show what you know. As with a blog post, you do not have to make this public.
- Teach a peer, a family member or a friend
The ability to speak your knowledge to another person will be incredibly effective.
- You can write an email to someone teaching them
Again, you don’t have to send it, but it can be great to get the knowledge and ideas written out.
Teaching puts a little extra pressure on you to make sure you know what you know.
Don’t make the mistake of not teaching what you learn. This is such a key step in closing the learning loop so you solidify what you’ve been learning these last few days, months, or even years.
Does this sound like something you might try? Or, have you already been doing this? Send a message and let us know!
Check out our accompanying video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxENAJ8q1TE