“Those who teach effectively learn how to do.”

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Posted by Jim Farrell

When I taught elementary school I would immediately become irate whenever I heard that saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t teach.”As my career moved from teaching children to teaching adults, I saw even more clearly that this is not the case. It takes tremendous skill to pass foundational and advanced knowledge onto others effectively.

An article from the Harvard Business Web site by Michael Schrage gave me the phase I will use going forward when talking about teaching:

“Those who teach effectively learn how to do.”

Since my favorite thing to write about is Questionmark Live you may be asking how this idea fits into authoring questions!

When I worked for a large insurance company, my greatest sources of content and questions for assessments were the instructors teaching new hires. These instructors were constantly poring over content and lucidly presenting it to people with absolutely no knowledge of the insurance industry. These instructors were not pigeon-holed into one specialty: they had to fully understand each area of the company to be effective teachers. These were my question authors because they were true Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

People often express concern about having SMEs write questions because they are not experts in writing questions. On the other hand, as an instructional designer I often found it difficult to harvest the content necessary to write questions. Shared question sets in Questionmark Live brings this all together by providing a collaborative environment for SMEs and IDs. Allowing SMEs to write the initial question ensures real job skills are being tested. At the same time, if someone can effectively teach someone else a skill, the teacher is gaining a deeper understanding of the fundamentals necessary to perform it. I think the idea used in many places, “see one, do one, teach one,” paves the way for a dynamic workplace environment with everyone dedicated to both teaching and learning.

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