Children are Great Teachers

According to new research from Stanford scientists, young children often consider what their learners or students will find rewarding or valuable. Indeed, they can reason about the anticipated reward from the learner’s perspective to determine what’s best to teach. The study findings showed that most children prioritize teaching both fun and challenging things.

In some cases, kids make better teachers of micro-masteries than adults and rarely over-talk. They observe carefully while taking notes and find their own way of handling something. In other cases, the usual way of doing something may not suit some kids. But by messing around with a subject, kids will likely find their way in. This way, kids can have fun when teaching something instead of worrying about the ideal way of doing it.

Note that having fun with something is a type of expertise in its own right. Considering that expertise is a slippery concept, most kids can still be masters of the explicit. They can actually give a great talk about something and convince others. However, tacit and implicit expertise is equally important. Things a kid can’t necessarily talk about – stuff they just do. Think of a kid who can pick up a broken electronic, doesn’t know what it’s for, and has the expertise to have a lot of fun with it.

Getting kids to teach isn’t new. The inventor of a commercially viable steam train, George Stephenson, could barely write or read though he was an innovator and metal fabricator. He paid for Robert, his son, to go to school, and after lessons, Robert would then teach his father what he had learned. That’s how George learned to write and read proper English and even do mathematics. Surprisingly, this approach to learning continued until Roberts began studying higher aspects of physics and engineering in his late teens.

George would become a true polymath. He was the principal inventor of the legendary steam train and collaborated with Humphry Davy to invent the miner’s safety lamp. George was also a boxer, athlete, and gardener. While Robert went to construct railways worldwide, equally but not surpassing the man who was taught how to read and write properly by his son.

Generally, learning from kids is a good way to avoid the embarrassment of admitting that you know nothing. They don’t want to make you seem small, particularly if you are their parent (or guardian) and control their internet access. Explore Instaread for up-to-date learning and educational book summaries.