The Beginner’s Guide to: Peer-to-Peer Teaching.
When we learn about a subject, thinking that we are going to teach about it, we process the information differently, regardless of whether we are actually going to teach or not. Learning with a teaching mindset, jumpstarts different brain activity that studying, merely to pass a test, doesn’t. The process of learning with a teaching mindset goes beyond wanting to be a teacher or professor, it is about the peer-to-peer exchange of valuable information. It is about having a social commitment that motivates you to share the lessons learned. “Peer teaching is a method by which one student instructs another student in material on which the first is an expert and the second is a novice”. Nonetheless, to me, peer-to-peer teaching is simply the moment in which magic happens: two or more people connect, and knowledge transfer occurs as a result of this interaction. Have you ever experienced this kind of magic? I know I have. There has been sharing of data in almost every conversation I’ve had in my life.
Studies show that the learning process through peer teaching is reciprocal. In fact, students often feel more comfortable when exchanging any kind of information with classmates or any other peers. In addition, it has been proved that peer teaching makes students excel, helping them obtain higher academic achievements. But how often are these students exposed to these enhanced learning outcomes? I believe peer-to-peer teaching happens everyday…organically. It is within the late night beers and wine, the chips and dips on a Sunday, Monday’s coffee break conversation, the Friday ping pong tournaments, and many more. In fact, peer-to-peer teaching is within our deepest conversations with those who have anything worth-sharing.
In peer-to-peer teaching we are able to take control of our education. Self-directed learning and peer-to-peer teaching are directly proportional. Given that, to be able to teach about our lessons, we must understand how-to learn to learn first. Truth is, one complements the other. Without the autonomous learning drive to find out everything that we need to know, we wouldn’t be capable of identifying the ideal people to transfer knowledge with. We should all see peer-to-peer teaching as a learning mechanism.
How I see it, there are two main perspectives: the inner circle and the outer circle.
The Inner Circle: is composed of the people you interact with the most. They are the ones you first had knowledge transfer with, without even realizing it. Your inner circle should include friends and family that in some way share or align with your mindset. These people force you to deal with the complexity of life (and not in a bad way) on a daily basis. Their energy is highly important because they’re the ones that somehow influence your thirst and drive to go beyond limits and exceed your own expectations.
The inner circle witnessed your first attempts of the Art of Questioning. We’ve all seen or been those kids who keep questioning everything and everyone. I bet you (reader) have witnessed it yourself: how a kid comes up to his/her parent and asks him/her “Why [this]?” and “Why [that]?”. You, as an outsider, might not recognize it, but that’s the kid’s first attempts of the art of questioning — an art that we’re constantly killing by downsizing the curiosity of every child. I hope we quit stopping children’s curiosity, and start embracing the fact that curiosity is one of the most important drivers of learning, and therefore teaching others.
The Outer Circle: is composed of people you carefully identify and invite to your knowledge sharing. For this one, keep in mind: “source as well as the quality”. I believe there are three main components of the outer circle: your classmates, your professors, and important players of your professional ecosystem. The peer-to-peer teaching between classmates goes beyond tutoring one another. It is about how well you can learn things on your own, outside of the classroom, and then come back the next day, with new knowledge to share with your classmates. It’s about challenges. But most of all, it’s about how well we can complement each other’s learning process, while teaching every single one of our peers our own lessons.
On the other hand, I see the peer-to-peer teaching between students and professors, a little different. I believe in a little thing called the Socratic Method and Socrates’s own Art of Questioning. The Socratic Method proposes a constant debate between students and professors where the exchange of information is reciprocal. Professors should refuse to generate thought-stopping questions & answers, because they’re the ones who should help us keep our curiosity alive when everyone else keeps trying to tone it down.
As the last component of the outer circle, the important players of our professional ecosystem represent a defining role in our lives. They’re our very own self-reflection. We should choose to approach people that somehow represent how we see ourselves in the future. Go to them, have conversations, exchange knowledge, ask them to be your mentors, but above all, learn from them. The outer circle is a very particular perspective of the peer-to-peer teaching, but it widens your point of view and it helps you interact first hand with extremely valuable information that might not be reachable on a daily basis.
The Peer-to-Peer Model emphasizes on the key elements of your peer teaching journey. There’s more to what the process comprehends, but this serves as a complete first view of what your circles of peers should look like. Once you’ve identified the components of your inner and outer circle, understand what is that you’re looking for in each of them. However, always remember that we are all learners, and we can certainly all be teachers.
I have been a learner all my life, but I must admit, I understood the power of peer-to-peer teaching within my very own circle of friends. I saw that when I realized I somewhat influenced my friends to a point were they’re both having business/marketing related job experiences without the academic background. They both felt that our deep wine conversations about my latest experiences within the Business & Marketing field were enough for them to dare to take the challenge. But the learning has been both ways, thanks to my best friend who studies Photography, I was able to give my first Entrepreneurship workshop focused on Photography Entrepreneurship, without the arts academic background. On the other hand, my other best friend has shared so many of her script writing experiences that, not only gave me the ultimate push to start writing, but also allows my articles to have an amazing proofreader. These are just a few examples to show that peer-to-peer teaching is everywhere, and it might even be more present outside of the classrooms than inside.
Peer-to-peer promotes active learning, and it also helps improve the following skills: team building, social competence, public speaking and communication, as well as it gives a greater productivity and self-esteem. I am a true supporter of the peer-to-peer teaching, and that all schools, colleges and institutions should promote peer-teaching that goes beyond peer-tutoring. It is time we change the learning process and start looking for new ways to improve learning/teaching systems. There’s much more on peer-to-peer teaching, so stay tuned.
The Hustle is Real,