It has been said that teaching can be a great way to learn, and it's also been said that the teacher can sometimes learn as much from the student as the student may learn from the teacher.
For thousands of years, people have known that the best way to understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. "While we teach, we learn," said the Roman philosopher Seneca. Now scientists are bringing this ancient wisdom up to date. documenting exactly why teaching is such a fruitful way to learn.
The authors continue to describe studies that elucidate the fact that children who help to tutor other students actually learn the material more fully than those students who simply study for their own benefit.
But what has this got with diabetes, you may ask?
Well, we all have our own individual learning curve in life, and in the area of living with diabetes or any chronic condition, we all have to learn at our own pace.
Teach to Learn
So, when is the last time you were in the position of teaching someone about living with diabetes? Do you have a colleague who doesn't understand your condition and is in need of some education? Do you have children in your life who show curiosity about the syringes, glucometers, and the other accoutrements of your condition?
When you take the time to teach someone about your diabetes and how you live with it on a daily basis, you may find that you actually learn, as well. You may learn from the questions that they ask, or you may learn something based on the ways in which you choose to teach them what you're trying to convey.
Teaching about something can actually open your mind to new ways of looking at an issue that you felt you knew all of the answers to. And the questions that the relatively ignorant person asks could pry loose some of your own doubts or questions that are begging for you to consider.
Teaching can be a learning experience.
Learn to Teach
If you've been asked to present on diabetes to your daughter's 5th-grade class, it would be a much different presentation than you would give to your son's 12th-grade health class. Meanwhile, explaining your health needs to your boss may be very different (or not) from how you explain them to your personal trainer or yoga teacher.
Learning to teach others appropriately about your condition is key, and understanding how to alter information so that it can be digested and understood by your current audience is an important skill.
When someone asks you a question about diabetes, are you able to respond succinctly and clearly? When you're seeing a new healthcare provider and you need to give them your health history, how do you present that information?
The student can be your best teacher, and if you listen for what others want to know, you can learn a great deal. Others' questions will showcase the areas of education that can most benefit your colleagues, friends, and family, and having others understand your diabetes is a big plus for you.
Learning to teach others about your condition is part of owning your health, taking responsibility for it, and being willing to share your knowledge with others.
If you want to sharpen your skills, find a program where you can mentor and share with newly-diagnosed diabetics, since those are people who may really benefit from your expertise and experience. Online forums and other venues may also be a great place to share and teach from your unique perspective.
Whether you're the student or the teacher, there is much to learn. And teaching can be a wonderful platform for solidifying the knowledge that you have, and showing you clearly the areas where you could stand to learn some more!