The following quote by this famous Founding Father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, was meant to express how important it is to involve students in their own education in order for them to successfully learn. Whether you are trying to learn a new language or skill, knowing is not everything if you don’t understand.
“Tell me and I forget.”
The first sentence refers to a one-sided approach of teaching. In this case, the teacher is merely reciting facts to someone without any interaction or exchange, closing off the relationship between the teacher and student. The student is in a passive position where he receives information without necessarily understanding or comprehending it. It is completely devoid of any meaning as it is lacking context. This transmission of ideas, for most students, does not allow for a sustainable education since they forget what they were told through this method.
“Teach me and I remember.”
This second sentence implies a slightly more active role from the student who would absorb some of the knowledge passed on by the teacher. Here, using a different teaching method, where the teacher and student communicate, one may memorise information, words, and facts, but not necessarily fully understand the meaning behind them. In this instance, the information was transmitted but the student did not create meaning out of it, and it remains an information that does not make any sense although it was memorised. Remembering knowledge and spitting it out is nothing if you are not able to understand its full meaning or how to use it.
“Involve me and I learn.”
Now this last sentence, in particular, is the most important. It is the complete opposite of the first sentence since here, the student is fully active in his own learning process. It means that not only does he remember useful words and facts, but he understands them and knows how to use them properly. In this example, the student, through manipulation and practice, is able to build meaning and context to the information passed onto him, allowing him to learn something that he will then be able to transpose in other real-life situations.
In conclusion, this quote simply exposes the difference between a direct method of teaching where students are passive, a method where both teacher and student exchange without constructing meaning, and a method where the student himself is at the center of his own education and where he is the one building knowledge and skills. It shows that you can either talk AT someone without them reacting, talk TO someone without a real meaning, or talk WITH someone and build something with them. Of course, every student being different, it is important to remember that there is not one perfect method, that some will learn better with a specific method, and that is why it is important to focus on your audience’s needs. This is something that Daily English has understood and has been doing in order to teach English more efficiently.