teachChangeNote: Howard Hendricks went to be with the Lord on Feb 20, 2013. This is part of a series of articles published in his honor.

As an effective teacher, you must not only know that which you would teach—that is, your content—but you must also know those whom you wish to teach.

You are not interested simply in inculcating principles; you want to infect people.

Therefore, the way people learn determines how you teach. This is the Law of Education.

The concept behind this law is what John Milton Gregory in his classic work The Seven Laws of Teaching calls the Law of the Teaching Process. It involves stimulating and directing the learner’s self-activities—that’s the key expression.

In fact, we can further define the law this way: The teacher must excite and direct the learner’s self-activities, and, as a rule (though I’ll give some exceptions later), tell the learner nothing—and do nothing for him—that he can learn or do for himself. Therefore, what’s important is not what you do as a teacher, but what the learners do as a result of what you do.

This definition casts both teacher and learner into well-defined roles:

The teacher is primarily a stimulator and motivator … not the player, but the coach who excites and directs the players.

The learner is primarily an investigator, a discoverer, and a doer.


So, again, the ultimate test of teaching is not what you do or how well you do it, but what and how well the learner does.


Teaching to Change Lives: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive by Howard Dr Hendricks