At S.E.E.D.S. we believe that one of the best ways to learn something is to try to teach it to someone. So rather than written tests, we use the Teach-Back as a practical exam. When done in a group based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, participants don’t compete with each other for the batter grade or to look like the better person. To illustrate this point, consider a group lesson on making compost. The concept of composting is presented. Group members (let’s call them Group A) then gather the necessary materials. Everyone does all the various tasks for making compost. Once the compost pile is done, each student is expected to Teach-Back to others. The “new students” can be family members, friends, neighbors or anyone interested in learning to make compost. If the members of Group A team up to do the Teach-Back, you might get to see synergy at work.
Synergy is a situation where the whole (in this case the team) is greater than the sum of its parts. What one person forgets, another remembers. And sometimes a partial memory is jogged or filled in by another team member. Together the team might gain additional insights to making compost not specifically taught in the original lesson they learned. There’s no need to finger point and taunt each other about who forgot what. The key is for the team to teach others how to make compost.
People are individuals. As such, each is unique. Each teaching site is unique. We may all look at the same material or object, but what each of us sees and thinks about that object can be very different. Often people tend to teach as they have been taught. So during a Teach-Back a new learner might ask a question that is new to the Teach-Back trainers. Each trainer might have a different answer. As such, there is a high probability that the composting lesson will NOT be a carbon copy of the original lesson. Each trainer, teaching site, group of learners are a unique combination. Therefore, each time the composting lesson is taught, there is a chance to learn something new. We have so much to learn from one another.This is another reason why learning is a life-time endeavor.