Originally posted on January 26, 2018 by Dustin B. Denson
"Teaching is the highest form of understanding." - Aristotle
Having knowledge is good. Having understanding is better. You can know a lot of things, but never really understand them. One place you can seek understanding is through teaching.
In education, there are various stages to learning. One of the most recognized models of this is Bloom's Taxonomy. Although Bloom's places understanding closer to the bottom, it is still useful as a model. Since it also has multiple levels, for the sake of brevity, learning can be roughly divided into three stages.
The first, basic stage, is knowing something to the degree that one can list, define, recall, identify, and describe. The second, intermediate stage is knowing something to the degree that one can summarize, explain, interpret, use, apply, compare/contrast, and examine. Again, for the sake of keeping this brief, a few stages have been combined. Finally, the third, advanced level is knowing something to the degree that one can create, evaluate, plan, produce, judge, critique, and defend. It is common to use verbs when explaining the various stages of learning and Bloom's Taxonomy. As it can be seen, the depth and complexity at which something is understood increases at the various stages of learning.
What does this have to do with teaching? The connection is simple - effectively teaching something requires knowing and understanding it at the highest stage of learning possible. Teaching requires that the thing being taught has been learned well. Of course, one's ability to teach comes in degrees. The more experienced a teacher you are, the more effectively you should be at teaching something. Through teaching you will begin to understand something to the degree that you can create, evaluate, defend, synthesize, and critique (the highest level), for example, because you will have to be able to do those things to become a more effective teacher. Students will ask challenging questions that will require a teacher to think deeper to provide the answers. It is the obligation of the teacher to do the best he/she can to lead the student through the various stages of learning so that they may know and understand with as much depth and complexity as the teacher, if not more.
Consider Method Four (Dakup Y Punyo) of the Twelve Methods of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali as an example. Through teaching, one will know and understand the Dakup Y Punyo two man combat drill to the degree that one will be able to lead a student through the various stages of learning.
First, the teacher teaches the form so the student is able to execute it (recall), provide the definition of the method (define), and perhaps identify it if seeing it executed. This is the basic stage.
At the next stage, which is the intermediate stage, the teacher would teach the student how to perform the two man combat drill with a partner (apply), what the basic attacks are (apply) and, perhaps, teach them how it includes and combines the second and third methods (compare/contrast). This stage might also include teaching the 8 and 9 thrusting version of the drill.
Finally, at the last and most advanced stage, the teacher might teach the student how to combine the drill with other two man combat drills such as the Five Attacks flow or Segang Labo, move between the basic drill and the 8 and 9 thrusting version, and/or what the best attacks are out of the drill or how to use them in the combat flow for example.
Each of these instructional stages requires that the teacher understands what he/she is teaching very well. Through teaching - leading a student through the stages of learning - the teacher's own understanding will deepen and become more complex.
Everyone is a teacher and a learner at various stages in his/her life. It is valuable to teach in order to learn. It is also valuable to maintain a learner's mindset. This will make someone a better teacher. This will increase a teacher's understanding.