Schoolers gathered from the Nan Hua High School in Singapore

Teaching is the practice implemented by a teacher aimed at transmitting skills (knowledge, know-how, and interpersonal skills) to a learner, a student, or any other audience in the context of an educational institution. Teaching is closely related to learning, the student's activity of appropriating this knowledge.[1]

Teaching is part of the broader concept of education.[2][3]


A teacher of a Latin school and two students, 1487

A teacher, also called a schoolteacher or formally an educator, is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence, or virtue, via the practice of teaching.

Informally the role of teacher may be taken on by anyone (e.g. when showing a colleague how to perform a specific task). In some countries, teaching young people of school age may be carried out in an informal setting, such as within the family (homeschooling), rather than in a formal setting such as a school or college. Some other professions may involve a significant amount of teaching (e.g. youth worker, pastor).

In most countries, formal teaching of students is usually carried out by paid professional teachers. This article focuses on those who are employed, as their main role, to teach others in a formal education context, such as at a school or other place of initial formal education or training.


An astronaut in training for an extravehicular activity mission using an underwater simulation environment on Earth.
Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge or fitness that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one's capability, capacity, productivity and performance. It forms the core of apprenticeships and provides the backbone of content at institutes of technology (also known as technical colleges or polytechnics). In addition to the basic training required for a trade, occupation or profession, training may continue beyond initial competence to maintain, upgrade and update skills throughout working life. People within some professions and occupations may refer to this sort of training as professional development. Training also refers to the development of physical fitness related to a specific competence, such as sport, martial arts, military applications and some other occupations.

Teaching in non-human animals

Teaching has been considered uniquely human because of mentalistic definitions. Indeed, in psychology, teaching is defined by the intention of the teacher, which is to transmit information and/or behavior and/or skill. This implies the need for the teacher to assess the knowledge state of the potential learner, thus to demonstrate theory of mind abilities. As theory of mind and intentions are difficult (if not impossible) to assess in non-humans, teaching was considered uniquely human.[4] However, if teaching is defined by its function, it is then possible to assess its presence among non-human species. Caro and Hauser[5] suggested a functionalist definition. For a behavior to be labeled as teaching, three criteria must be met :


  1. ^ Musial, Manuel; Pradere, Fabienne; Tricot, André (2012). How to design a teaching course. Brussels: De Boeck. ISBN 978- 2-8041-6936-7.
  2. ^ Chessex-Viguet, Christiane (2015). Penser l'école. Paris: L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-343-06826-8. OCLC 922630409.
  3. ^ Ver, Naïl; Paul, Adeline; Malki, Farid (2014). Professeur des écoles: droits, responsabilités, carrière [School teacher: rights, responsibilities, career] (in French). Retz Éditions. ISBN 9782725632520. OCLC 871305750.
  4. ^ Kline, Michelle Ann (2015). "How to learn about teaching: An evolutionary framework for the study of teaching behavior in humans and other animals". Behavioral and Brain Sciences: e31. doi:10.1017/S0140525X14000090.
  5. ^ Caro, T.M.; Hauser, M.D. (1992). "Is There Teaching in Nonhuman Animals?". The Quarterly Review of Biology. 67 (2): 151–174. doi:10.1086/417553.

Further reading