The learning pyramid

One of our staff emails was about a summer course in the learning pyramid. I’ve not made a study of this myself by my first impression is that this is sensible. I say that as someone strongly inclined to teach in the manner that, according to this chart, is the least efficacious in terms of getting students to remember or retain what’s been taught – by lecturing.

Of course, there is lecturing and then there is lecturing. People can learn to be active listeners. Think of all the folks who listen to TED talks or stop in their cars for NPR “driveway moments.” I had two history teachers one of whom we called “coughdrop” and the other “sloughfoot.” The only learning I did in their classes was in reading the text and that is, according to the chart, only twice as effective as lecturing. Its ten percent. And yet reading is my preferred method of taking in new information.

I tend to agree that each of the methods of learning going down the list is more effective than the one before it. That suggests to me that the best learning is one that takes place while still learning oneself but trying to teach despite some ignorance of the topic you are teaching.

My father began teaching business law and Insurance at Mankato State while he was still racing ahead of his students by a few chapters. He didn’t just have to earn an A he had to be the teacher of kids every bit as bright as he was.

What a challenge for teachers to make teachers of students while they are still learning. The payoff for this, according to the chart, is a possible 90% rate of retention.

Sorry, but my blog is almost all reading. That means, again according to the pyramid, that my readers are generally stuck at the 10% learning level. Then again, considering what I write, that may be fortunate.

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