Teach Less, Learn More: The Movement that Prepares Children for Life

Schools can prepare children to be creative atd autonomous. It's possible to leach less by investing in quality so that children learn more.
Teach Less, Learn More: The Movement that Prepares Children for Life
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 24 June, 2023

Traditionally, school has been a space for the transmission of knowledge, which is mainly theoretical. Aspects such as emotions, attitudes, and values were relegated to the realm of informal education and weren’t well addressed in the classroom. However, in today’s world, offering a curriculum of theoretical content isn’t enough: Children need to be prepared for life. It’s with this objective in mind that the project “Teach less, learn more” was born.

This was the motto of an educational reform implemented in Singapore in 2006 with the aim of improving the effectiveness of teaching. Spending more hours in the classroom and increasing academic content isn’t necessarily the best strategy. The key lies in teaching children to “learn to learn” and in making good use of the time they spend at school.

Teach less, learn more, what does this proposal consist of?

Although it may sound paradoxical, it’s actually possible to teach less and learn more. This has been reflected in evaluations carried out to compare the educational systems of different countries, such as the PISA report. In Spain, students spend considerably more time in the classroom than the European average, yet their results aren’t the best.

In contrast, in other countries such as Finland or South Korea, teachers teach fewer hours per year and their education systems are among the highest scoring. Teaching hours can be reduced if the emphasis is placed on making good use of them and ensuring that they have real meaning for learning. In short, the aim is to make teaching more efficient and optimal.

A young Asian child who's overwhelmed by too much school work.
The “teach less, learn more” philosophy seeks not to burden children with extracurricular tasks, but rather to ensure that learning takes place at school by improving the quality of content.

Less workload

Reducing curricular content and student workload is one of the premises. Therefore, the idea is to not oversaturate them with information or with school or extracurricular tasks. Instead, it’s a matter of making a good selection of content.


Schools must be aligned toward common objectives, but each classroom and each teacher has the freedom and flexibility to innovate in terms of what and how they teach. In this way, pedagogy can be adapted to the particular needs of each group of children.

Good teachers

It’s important to make a good selection of teachers and dignify their work. Choosing the best and providing them with sufficient resources to carry out their work is fundamental. In this way, knowing that teachers have the necessary skills ensures that learning takes place eminently in the classroom, which is optimal.

Attention to emotions

Emotions are taken into account as a crucial key in the learning process. For this, positive and stimulating environments must be created in the classroom, which favor enthusiasm and interest and allow students to enjoy the process.

Elementary children raising their hands while their teacher teaches math on the chalkboard.
Under the motto “teach less, learn more”, the aim is to motivate students, attract them, and awaken their curiosity and desire to learn.


As we said, the main key in the “teach less, learn more” proposal is to focus on helping children “learn to learn”. Therefore, it’s not so much a matter of offering particular contents of specific subjects that will soon become obsolete. On the contrary, it seeks to provide them with the tools and personal resources to be able to continue learning throughout their lives.

Under this premise, emphasis is placed on developing aspects such as the following:

  • Inculcating useful and functional values and attitudes
  • Developing critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to argue
  • Generating, developing, or acquiring their own learning strategies, which they can generalize to different contexts and use whenever necessary
  • Encouraging creativity, originality, and the ability to find innovative solutions to different problems
  • Prioritizing motivation to learn and achievement orientation, so that students enjoy learning and continue learning beyond the school period
  • Working on frustration tolerance, perseverance, and resilience
  • Building self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Forming autonomous students who know how to manage on their own and not only follow orders and directives

Prepare children for life

In short, this motto means that teachers teach fewer hours and students spend less time studying, but the results are much better. This is because we invest in the quality of teaching and use rigorous methods to make it more efficient. Therefore, the benefits are seen in academic results and satisfaction during the school period. But it also prepares children for life.

While decades ago, it was common to get a job and keep it for life, today the environment is changing, uncertain, and increasingly demanding. These students, as they grow up, will have to face new situations for which they haven’t been specifically prepared at school. However, they’ll have the attitude, values, and personal strategies to cope with them. This is really the true gain and the overall goal.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Arellano, A. B., Wong, J., & Gopinathan, S. (2015). Desarrollo profesional docente en Singapur: describiendo el panorama. Psychology, Society & Education7(3), 423-441.
  • Forés, A., Gamo, J. R., Guillén, J. C., Hernández, T., Ligioiz, M., Pardo, F., & Trinidad, C. (2015). Neuromitos en educación. El aprendizaje desde la neurociencia. Barcelona: Plataforma Editorial.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.