Originally not a formal philosophy, the concept of the learning teacher has become widespread, both in the cognitive sciences and in public. It opposes the conventional idea of the teacher as a static authority, whos only purpose is to convey a predetermined list of knowledge to his or her students. One expression compares this view to considering the teacher a 'talking textbook'. The view is increasingly criticized for not only reducing the teacher's positive results with students, but also for causing stagnation within the practical field of modern teaching. The latter refers to the impossible task of continual improvement within a field determined to be a constant repetition of its contents.

A 'learning teacher' is, on the most basic level, assumed to learn about his or her students during the act of teaching. This means continual adjustment to the details of teaching a specific skill or topic, so that students with different predispositions are capable of learning at a fairly equal rate. In practice, this means explaining certain things in several different ways to ensure that every student can identify with at least one way of understanding it. While any teacher will either learn or be told to think of this when teaching, this particular skill tends to develop better with experience than by formal instruction. However, for the learning teacher, it is always important to observe students while they try to learn.

To aid in this aspect of the learning teachers work, many different branches of psychology and the cognitive sciences are trying to establish routine methods for creating 'learning profiles'. The reason is to make it easier to prepare a teacher for teaching a specific student or group of students, allowing him or her to know in advance what sort of problems to expect and what sort of solutions to prepare. Log books made by teachers during and after teaching students, concerning observations of the students' prefered ways of learning, are one angle through which such profiles are meant to be established. Some, however, put emphasis on the need for methods comparable to personality tests, which allow a simple, possibly even universal set of questions and challenges, to be viewed by an expert to quickly produce reliable learning profiles. For both approaches, it is important to emphasize the need for continual updating of profiles, since any persons learning profile will inevitably change through continual learning.

One, arguably very different approach to the concept of learning through teaching is an extension of the concept of learning by doing. Practical experience has long been seen as a vital part of learning, even in conventional education. Experts all over the globe are currently working hard on developing new and improved simulations of skills in use, to allow students to practice those skills in a risk-free environment. However, this aspect of the learning teacher expands the idea to teaching, using standard class presentations as its base model. Class presentation, as found in many schools, involves a student to study, on his or her own, a single item of interest within a greater body of knowledge and then present it to the rest of the class, This is learning by teaching at its most basic: The student is forced to be aware of many otherwise ignored details and relations in the item in order to properly present it. Also, the possibility of being asked several questions after a presentation requires further thoroughness. In later education, writing a report or even a thesis will emulate this way of improving the detail of learning by having the student present the subject to others. Learning by teaching is merely a conscious extension of this, putting the student in the teachers place, possibly even to teach the material to others (as opposed to merely presenting it; teaching requires a sufficiently prepared and diverse presentation and knowledge to ensure that people actually understand you, not just listen).

The philosophy of the learning teacher is constantly being expanded and modified, and different variants on it keep appearing. The above only sketches out the two major themes of it.