I am often amazed at how much I learn when I prepare a talk for sacrament meeting or a lesson for Relief Society or other class. Last Sunday I taught my Primary class to be good examples and let their lights shine forth in order to help other people. I am a little surprised how often this principle was discussed in my private scripture and gospel study since I gave the lesson. I have heard other people discuss how much they learned when they had to speak or teach, but I have never considered the experience to be a principle of learning until the past few years.
Several years ago The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started a new program for the youth classes. The program, “Come, Follow Me,” is used for lessons in Sunday School, Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women, and Seminary classes. This program was instituted in order to better engage the youth in the lessons and to give them an opportunity to study the material and teach some of it to their peers. I taught the 12-year-old youth in Sunday School and thoroughly enjoyed using the program.
Last September I started Pathway classes, and one of the first lessons was about the Learning Model. This model includes opportunities for students at BYU-Idaho to both learn and teach their fellow students. BYU-Idaho President Clark calls the model “a pattern for learning.” My lesson material states “The Learning Model was created to deepen the learning experiences of students. This approach to teaching enables students to take greater responsibility for their own learning and for teaching one another.”
The Learning Model is built upon three “process steps” and five principles. The first process step encourages individual study and preparation. The second process step allows students to share what they learned with others and to deepen their learning with discussion. The third process step is to ponder what they learned in both individual and group study and then apply it to their lives. The five principles are: (1) exercise faith in Jesus Christ, (2) learn by the Holy Ghost, (3) lay hold of the good word of God, (4) act for yourself, and (5) love, teach, and serve one another.
I was particularly impressed about how the five principles work together to deepen understanding. As one of my classmates noted, if we are acting for ourselves, then we are exercising faith in Jesus Christ, learning by the Holy Ghost, laying hold on the word of God, and loving, serving, and teaching others. After her explanation, I realized that the same is true with the other principles. If we are exercising faith, we are listening to the Holy Ghost, searching the scriptures, acting for ourselves, and helping others. We cannot love, serve, and teach others without doing the previous four principles. In order to learn from the Holy Ghost, we must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, search the scriptures, act for ourselves, and serve others. We will never truly lay hold on the word of God if we do not exercise faith in Jesus Christ, listen to the Holy Ghost, act for ourselves, and love others. All the principles are necessary and work together to increase knowledge and understanding.
Why do we learn more when we are preparing a talk or lesson? I believe it is because we have to study the material more in order to understand it better for ourselves. Then we must reorganize the material in our minds in such a way that we can teach it to someone else. The third step in learning more is that we must then stand before a group of people and share what we learned and why we consider it to be important.
Joseph Smith, by revelation from the Lord, taught this principle to his brother Hyrum: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my work” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:21). I know that we can expand our own knowledge and understanding by utilizing this principle as much as possible in our lives. We must first put forth the effort to learn, and then we should share our new knowledge with others in order to deepen our own understanding and to increase their knowledge. I know the principle of learning and then teaching is a true principle of God.