Thursday, January 8, 2009

How the Brain Learns

According to David Sousa, How the Brain Learns (2006), determined what we retain after 24 hours of a teaching episode. The findings:

5% of lecture
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we both see and hear
70% of what we discuss with others
80% of what we experience personally
95% of what we teach to someone else

It is easy to infer that professors who teach primarily through lectures and reading assignments provide only minimal opportunities for learning when considering these statements. Sousa points out that no one type of teaching is best, but it is important to incorporate a variety of approaches in lessons for optimal learning.

What is surprising is that the #1 method of sharing information in religious circles is the lecture method. Especially when we consider that the writer of Hebrews scolds people for not becoming teachers and really knowing their stuff.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
Hebrews 5:11-12

James instructs us to not deceive ourselves. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

Without doubt, we humans are notoriously lazy and unwilling to become teachers of anything we have learned. Maybe our educational model is in part to blame for this. Remember studying for the test, rather than studying to teach.

Any teacher will admit that they learned the subject far better when they taught it than when they heard it. A retired science teacher told me the other day that he was a poor science student. He became fascinated and very good in science when he became a teacher of science.

So if you really want to learn something, make sure you're passing what you've learned on to someone else.

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