While I can’t say that I definitely plan on becoming a teacher or instructor of some sort when I grow up, there are a ton of valuable lessons to be learned by teaching or tutoring. Be it a subject, sport, or skill, helping someone with something you have near mastery of will not only benefit the person you are helping, but you’ll see yourself improving in this area, too.
Nothing paves the path to proficiency like reinforcement, and by what ever ways you can practice your skill or talent to hone any area that may need improvement, you will likely see vast progress. High school junior Noah Taylor says, “If I understand a subject, an effective method to reinforce my knowledge is to verbally walk through the material. And instead of talking it out by myself, I might as well help someone else too. So by explaining the problem to someone else, the other person learns how to solve the issue, and you yourself learn the knowledge better. For instance, if I read a chapter in my history textbook about the Cold War and have a brief understanding of it, and my friend doesn’t understand it at all, it will benefit me and my friend to talk over everything about the Cold War.” This method of learning is an incredibly effective two-way street—and trust me, your friends will come to appreciate your help immensely; I certainly appreciate Noah!
In addition to practicing and perfecting your area of teaching simply by repetition, helping someone else will allow you to view this skill or subject from a different perspective. I’ve been teaching piano and cello for a few years now, and not only does teaching give me an opportunity to play these instruments more often and expand my repertoire to assist my students, but I’ve begun to look at them in a new light.
Hearing someone else play an instrument is unbelievably different than listening to it yourself. Often when you try to critique yourself, it’s hard to focus entirely on sound, since you have to pay attention to the technique behind it. The same goes for anything else; it’s hard to watch yourself play soccer or think about the thought-process behind working out a math problem. With regards to instruments, it’s not only interesting to watch someone play up-close as I don’t normally get to, but I begin to think about a variety of things: dynamics, tempo, rhythm, etc. I find that when I think about these things while someone else is playing, I carry over a similar mindset to my own practice, and I become more critical of my own playing (the positive kind-of-critical!).
Aside from gaining greater mastery of the skill, there are the obvious perks to helping someone else. For one, it may be a great way to make easy money or gain work experience, especially if you have an interest in pursuing a field in the area you are teaching. Helping someone in this manner is also a great resumé builder and character-builder, too. You’ll be interacting with new people, possibly someone who is younger than you, so you’ll develop great communication skills by figuring out how to express your thoughts in a way that will make sense and come across clearly and enthusiastically to this novice.
Read about more of the benefits to teaching or tutoring someone here. Oh, and remember: You don’t need to be of high school age or older to teach or tutor! I began teaching piano to some of my younger neighbors when I was a mere middle schooler. As long as you have skills that are worth sharing, your age will not affect your ability to be a positive influence! Although it can be tough to have enough confidence in yourself to successfully help someone else learn or acquire a skill, the benefits will not only tremendously help you, but you’ll become a widely appreciated peer, role-model, or friend.