“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”
This quote is often attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius who lived around 500 BC. That’s over two thousand five hundred years ago. What he was saying is made clear in a more recent (relatively) 1960’s publication by the NTL institute in Bethel, Maine. They discovered the following about adult learners:
Learners retain approximately
- 5% of what they learn from a lecture
- 10% of what they learn from reading
- 20% of what they learn from audio-visual demonstration
- 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
- 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion
- 75% of what they learn when they practice it
- 90% of what they learn when they use it immediately
- 90% of what they learn when they teach someone else
Maybe this study is not entirely accurate, maybe there is more to it and maybe the research methods used to get these figures are questionable (as others have pointed out). But even if this is only a vague representation of learning, that is enough for me to totally re-think how we do education.
We are terribly good at making ‘teaching’ happen, just walk into a school or college and see how lecturers walk into class, dump information and then leave. The question is, how do we ensure that learning actually takes place?