Learning and teaching

Whenever I’m learning something, it’s always about paying attention to specific situations. When I find common factors in many situations, I make general assumptions.

  • For example, I observe that Fred – who thinks new foods are disgusting – didn’t try many growing up. When I see this often enough from different people, I begin to assume that exposing someone to a variety of foods when they’re young keeps them from being picky when they’re older.

I see specific situations and then generalize them. That’s learning.

Teaching is the reverse. When I’m trying to teach something, it’s always about applying general principles to specific situations.

  • For example, once I have the general principle that limited cuisine when young contributes to pickiness when older, I teach that by, say, encouraging friends to expose their kids to lots of different foods. Encourage your kids to order different meals each time they go out to eat.

I take a general principle and show how it can work for someone’s specific situation. That’s teaching.


  • If you’re learning something, focus on generalizing specifics situation.
  • If you’re teaching something, focus on applying general principles.

[And check it out: you can learn and then teach yourself by first generalizing specific situations and then applying those generalization to other, specific situations.]