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Students become the teachers

Should students sometimes teach the class about a subject they are an expert on? Definitely!

No child is the same and we can’t expect them to be either. Where some are good with textbooks, math, and science, some are soaring high in the skies of art and creativity. In this age and time, I feel as if there shouldn’t be one set of subjects, interests or skills that are praised, every extraordinary talent is to be cherished.

One might think that this ideology is too hard to implement since the endpoint only seems to be getting a good job and earning lots of money and art kids are never imagined in that scenario. It’s almost like money and art don’t go together!

There’s a way we can become the best generation to ever exist and the road to take is pretty simple; give the youth the confidence they need! Trust the children to excel at subjects they’re doing well at. If there’s one area they’re really comfortable with — keep that individuality alive!

Students should sometimes teach the class about a subject they are an expert on.

It does a lot of things for the kid.

Firstly, they learn the content better for themselves! There’s lots of research supporting that claim, as well as plenty of the first-hand experience, doing it and seeing it. When you try to explain something to somebody else, you end up understanding it better yourself. Talking can make it easier to see how the new material connects with, relates to or disagrees with what you already know. It expedites making the material your own, making it more meaningful to you.

Secondly, if the student is in the teacher’s shoes, they can experience a leading role and gain a lot of confidence. Learning can be an individual activity, but learning also can happen when students work together. Too often these are viewed as learning preferences and you’ll hear people say that students learn well alone or they learn well with others. In reality, they should have the skills necessary to learn in both contexts. And sometimes it’s easier for students to learn from each other than from the teacher. It’s safer to ask questions of a peer and to test knowledge with someone you consider an equal. Sometimes when you’ve just learned something, you can explain it better to somebody who doesn’t understand than the experts who know the concept so well they’ve forgotten when and how they first learned it.

Also, talking gives students the opportunity to practice using the language of the discipline. Experts in every field talk about the material with a highly specialized language; new words, big words, unfamiliar words. Students struggle with nomenclature; talking and writing are the best ways to learn the language of the professions. And nobody learns a new language without practice and without making egregious errors.

Thirdly, (and this is also my personal favorite), there’s a thrill that comes when you start hearing yourself talk like a professional when you first start to master the language and can make references the same way the experts do. This is how some students first discover that a particular content area interests them and when they catch a glimpse of learning as something that can be loved.

In-class discussions also help break through the anonymity of a large class where students don’t know each and can’t expect the teacher to know them. Talking with other students about course content is a good way to benchmark knowledge:

“Everybody else thinks this is important, so I’d better learn it.” or “Oh good, I’m not the only one who thinks this is hard and doesn’t understand it well.”

Talking puts some perspective on individual efforts to learn. It reduces stress, adjusts attitudes and motivates learning.

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