Peer tutoring was popular in the 1990’s. What you are learning here is that this technique is in fact ancient, not a new discovery. The point of these posts is to avoid reinventing the wheel and practice educational techniques that we already know work, if we use them.
Why is teaching others such a powerful technique? Because you have to really understand the content well to be able to give it over. If you cannot give it over then you do not understand it clearly yourself. You may even think you understand the material clearly, and then the person you are teaching asks you a question that stumps you. This lets you know that you didn’t understand it as well as you thought. Now you are compelled to study the topic a bit more and clarify your understanding.
According to the late R’ Noah Weinberg ignorance is the worst disease possible and the only cure is education. As such teaching is a moral obligation. On some level you already knew that. You have had the experience of watching someone struggling and known that you can help them do it better by teaching them. It may have been someone trying to ride a bike, get a ball into the hoop or even do their math homework. You may have offered to help or you may have had to bite your tongue because you know your precocious 2 ½ year old would give it to you for daring to offer to help her put her pants on, but it still pained you to watch the struggle. You felt helpless if you could not help and and felt good if you could help teach them a better way to success.
This natural human need to be helpful can actually be utilized to help those struggling learning disabled students get much needed practice and understanding in their own learning. By having them teach younger students, the struggling learner can feel good about what he does know and about having the opportunity to share that knowledge with someone who needs it. It is also a good way to let him save face, as you can blame the younger student they are helping for the lower level of the material instead of making our learning-disabled student feel bad about the juvenile level he is still on. When one of my own children was severely struggling with learning to read I had her help me with the bedtime routine by reading the bedtime story to a younger sibling. It was a win-win as she got the practice she needed and felt good about helping mom and making her younger sister happy and her sister got read more stories.
Can you think of a struggling student that you can bolster by having him peer tutor someone else?