Education is obviously of enormous value to students of all ages. Often overlooked, however, is the incredible value of teaching to the teacher, specifically the cognitive benefits a teacher gains.

The idea that we achieve better understanding of a concept or subject by teaching it to someone else is not new. The Roman philosopher Seneca (ca. 4 BC–65 AD) wrote, “Men learn while they teach.”1 Other authors have since expressed similar ideas. But what exactly are the cognitive benefits of teaching and how do they manifest?

As we shall see, teaching serves not only to refresh the teacher’s memory of the subject, but also to clarify, enhance, and deepen his understanding of it. These are reasons why those with the requisite knowledge and interest may want to consider teaching, even if only as a part-time or occasional complement to another career. . . .


1. Seneca, Moral Letters to Lucilius, Letter 7, Wikisource, (accessed March 12, 2020).

2. For more on the hierarchical nature of knowledge, see Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 2nd ed. (New York: New American Library, 1990); Lisa VanDamme, “The Hierarchy of Knowledge: The Most Neglected Issue in Education,” The Objective Standard 1, no. 1 (2006),

3. For more about definitions and related concepts, see Rand, “Definitions,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

4. “Floating abstraction” is a term coined by Ayn Rand. For more on this subject, see Rand, “Axiomatic Concepts,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

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