Teaching what you know
[caption id=”attachment_602” align=”aligncenter” width=”420”] Yet another thing Aristotle was right about.[/caption] Teaching. The best way to truly know something is to teach it to someone else. I’ve heard this over the years, and I can testify that’s there’s a lot of truth to it. I have found that when I do a presentation or attempt to teach something that I am not very familiar with, my presentation suffers.
Me a teacher? I don’t know anything!
At it’s core teaching the transfer of knowledge between people. The best move for a teacher is to learn more about that topic then your students do. This does not mean you have to become an expert, rather, you just need to know a little more than the people you are teaching. In fact, you can use this to your advantage: Find a spot in the topic (say Python Flask) and study it. When you have finished studying it (remember to set an end goal so you know when to stop!) they try and write up some notes on the topic. If you are really adventurous, I would recommend writing up a blog post to try and teach the world. If you think about it, good programming blogs are just that: an attempt to share some knowledge with the world.
I need inspiration. Who is doing great teaching?
I’m glad you asked. In addition to this blog (shameless plug :)) there some really great site out there where you can not only learn something, but learn how to teach it in an accessible manner. Here are some of my current favorites:
- Julia Evans -- Julia’s site is a wonderland of awesome programming topics, and some of the great low-level hacks she uses to discover things. She is very quick to point out she isn’t a master of the topic, and then proceeds to take the reader on a journey from the start of her problem all the way to an answer. I always learn something new from her posts and I’m ecstatic when a new one is published.
- Simple Programmer -- Jon Sonmez and his crew are always publishing new content. Their style is to talk more about the soft skills needed in programming. Jon is very honest in his approach and in the end I usually wind up picking up a few great ideas.
- Peter Norvig -- Peter is an extremely smart guy. Anything I say to try and explain why his postings are so awesome will fall far short of doing it justice. I will put it this way: When Peter speaks, you should listen.
I also tend to find a lot of inspiration from other developers that post things (blog posts, tweets, etc.) that just take a few minutes to drop some nugget that they have discovered. Who are your favorite people and spots to learn from? How can they help you learn how to be a better teacher?tags: