Teach to learn and copy to create

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Teaching, particularly in high schools, is an oft maligned profession. Yet, speak to many creative practitioners and they will tell you that the best way to learn a skill is to teach it. As the venerable professor Julius Sumner Miller would ask, “why is this so?”

Ironically, in order to learn effectively the brain requires repetition and immersion. To immerse ourselves fully in a subject requires patience, practice and reflection — something we rarely get to do as students.

However, as teachers we are constantly trying to break information down into digestible pieces for students of varying ability. By constantly repeating our instructions we build up expertise.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense that you learn best by teaching.

Creative professionals will also tell you that in order to make something original you have to copy. Study your favourite artists and break apart their designs, stories or musical scores to understand their construction. From this you imitate and transform their work into something of your own.

This will end in one of two ways: a unique piece of work or a lesson in where you fall short of your heroes.

In summary: We learn through teaching and create through cheating. It is a lesson in humility.

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Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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